(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Oil shipments will resume from the port of Marsa el-Hariga after an agreement was reached during talks in Vienna on Monday between Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in Tripoli and a rival oil company in the east.
Exports from the Hariga port have been blocked since the beginning of May due to a standoff between the parallel oil company in the east, which is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), and the legitimate NOC in the west, which is aligned with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (NOC).
The standoff started when the eastern oil company’s attempt to sell oil independently from the Tripoli-NOC failed due to the blacklisting of its oil tanker, the Distay Ameya, by the United Nations. In retaliation, the eastern oil company blocked the Tripoli-NOC from loading a shipment of oil at Hariga port, which accounts for the bulk of Libya’s crude oil exports.
The agreement was reached during the Vienna summit on Libya between Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of the Tripoli-NOC and Nagi Emagrabi, the chairman of the eastern-based oil company. Emagrabi said that crude oil exports from the Hariga port will resume in about three days.
“We agreed to keep the National Oil Corp. neutral, away from political conflicts,” Elmagrabi said.
The dispute between the two oil companies, which has been costing Libya $10 million a day, threatened to completely shut down oil production in the oil rich country.
Reuters reported that the two sides agreed to resume oil shipments from Hariga to “avoid damage to pipelines, avert a financial crisis, and ensure power supplies are not interrupted further.”
After the Vienna summit on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the GNA should receive full international support in order to keeping the NOC running. With the UN’s approval, the GNA is also going to be provided with arms to fight ISIS.
Libya is producing less than a quarter of the 1.6 million barrels per day of oil it was producing in 2011 before the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The agreement reached between the two oil companies could allow the Libyan government’s plan to restore oil production to pre-2011 levels to succeed; however, it continues to face obstacles from the HoR in the east who have yet to give the unity government’s cabinet a vote of confidence.