Key oil export hub reopens

Downtown Tripoli, Libya, Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo: NYTimes)
Downtown Tripoli, Libya, Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo: NYTimes)
TRIPOLI — Libya’s state oil firm said on Monday it was reopening a key export terminal, a week after suspending operations over the central bank’s “refusal” to release funds for the vital sector.اضافة اعلان

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) “announces the immediate lifting of the state of force majeure at the Hariga terminal and will instruct operators to restart production and exports,” it said in a statement.

The NOC said last Monday it had suspended operations at Hariga over “the Central Bank of Libya’s refusal to liquidate the oil sector budget” for several months. 

Throughout Libya’s decade of conflict, the NOC has repeatedly declared force majeure at its export terminals, absolving itself from responsibility for any failure to comply with delivery commitments. 

Usually these declarations have been linked to attacks by armed groups vying for control of Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, which form the backbone of Libya’s economy.

But the NOC said last week that the lack of state financing had driven companies in the sector further into debt, leaving them unable to meet financial and technical commitments.

Libya’s oil sector and revenues from exports have been a key focus of conflict since the country slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

NOC chief Mustafa Sanalla has frequently clashed with Central Bank Governor Al-Siddik al-Kabir, accusing him of playing politics with the oil sector and of “illegally controlling state funds”.

On Monday, Sanalla praised “the rapid response” of Libya’s new unity government, which “allocated a billion dinars (around $200 million) as part of the NOC’s budget”.

The NOC had warned that funds previously received represented “less than 2 percent” of what was needed by the company and its subsidiaries for this year.

Libya has seen a period of relative calm since October, when main rival forces from the east and west signed a truce agreement.

A unity government installed last month has been charged with preparing the country for December elections.

Oil production has also rebounded, reaching 1.2 million barrels per day in December — 10 times average output in the previous quarter.

Production has stabilized but output still remains below the Gaddafi-era level of 1.6 million barrels per day. 

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