Libya’s NOC condemns calls to blockade oil facilities by Haftar’s loyalists

A view of the Zueitina oil installation in Libya in 2013. [GETTY IMAGES]
The board of directors of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has strongly condemned calls to blockade oil ports ahead of the Berlin Conference on Sunday.

“The oil and gas sector is the lifeblood of the Libyan economy and the single source of income for the Libyan people. The oil and the oil facilities belong to the Libyan people. They are not cards to be played to solve political matters,” said NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.

He added that shutting down oil exports and production will have far-reaching and predictable consequences.

“If the shutdown is prolonged, we face collapse of the exchange rate, a huge and unsustainable increase in the national deficit, the departure of foreign contractors, and the loss of future production which may take years to restore. The main beneficiaries of this act will be other oil-producing states, and the harm will be entirely to Libyans. This is like setting fire to your own house.” Sanalla said in a statement on Friday.

He also explained that if the fields are shut, the production loss will be immediate.

“We have limited available storage at our main ports. If they are closed, we will need to reduce production immediately, and to shut down entirely when available storage is filled. That could be in as little as five days.” Sanalla indicated.

He added that blockading oil facilities is a criminal act, saying if these threats are carried out, NOC will prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent possible under Libyan and international law.

“NOC also calls on the security forces claiming to protect its facilities to prevent any attempts at start a blockade, and warns that their failure to do so will force the corporation to look at other options to protect vital facilities that belong to the Libyan people.” He added .

Meanwhile on Friday, eastern Libya ports controlled by Khalifa Haftar, who is trying to seize the capital Tripoli, are shutting down oil exports, slashing national crude output by more than half and ramping up tensions ahead of a summit in Germany to discuss the country’s conflict.

Tribesmen in areas controlled by Haftar’s factions on Friday stormed the eastern Zueitina oil export port and announced the closure of all terminals under Haftar’s control.

Haftar’s forces spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari later told reporters that the “Libyan people” had closed the oil ports.

A source in state oil company NOC said Haftar’s forces nd an eastern oil protection force had ordered the closure of the ports. The oil protection force confirmed exports had been stopped.

Libya’s oil production was an estimated 1.3 million barrels a day before the closures.

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