Libya’s warlord Haftar hands over oil ports to unrecognized NOC
Khalifa Haftar announced Monday the handover of oil installations under the control of his self-styled army to an administration that rivals Libya’s UN-backed government, after retaking them from militias.
The strongman’s announcement came just hours after his “Libyan National Army ” said it had driven a rival force out of the country’s oil crescent and regained “full control” of the area.
“All the oil installations controlled by Libyan National Army are being handed over to the National Oil Corporation dependent on the provisional eastern government and that is headed by Faraj al-Hassi,” Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said, thus handing the oil ports to the parallel National Oil Corporation in Benghazi.
Ibrahim Jodran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard controlled the two key oil ports for years following 2011 revolution- but they were eventually forced out by the “LNA” in September 2016 and after they attacked the ports a week ago, they were also forced out by the “LNA” again.
Al-Mesmari, Haftar’s spokesman, said oil revenues from the four terminals now under LNA control would be handled by the administration in the east supported by Haftar.
“No tanker will be allowed to dock in eastern ports without permission from the NOC” based in Benghazi, he said.
Mesmari did not mention whether Libya’s eastern administration had found any buyers.
The Crisis Group’s senior Libya analyst Claudia Gazzini said in a tweet the “LNA decision not to hand over Libya’s key oil exporting terminals to NOC in Tripoli is dangerous. Could re-ignite war and deepen East vs West divide.”
Haftar made the decision to transfer control of the terminals after realising “rival armed groups are financed by oil revenues secured by the LNA”, Mesmari said, referring to Jodran’s forces.
Up until now, the terminals have been managed by the National Oil Company tied to Libya’s internationally recognised government based in Tripoli.