Reopening of Libya's Oil Export Terminals Delayed

Reopening of Libya's Oil Export Terminals Delayed
Reopening of Libya's Oil Export Terminals Delayed

Two of Libya’s biggest oil ports may not reopen soon as the hardening positions of rival factions pose a fresh challenge to international efforts to reunite the country and restore its crude exports. Shipments from Es Sider, Libya’s largest oil terminal, and Ras Lanuf, the third-biggest, have been halted since 2014 amid the see-sawing conflict in the North African state, Bloomberg reported.

Exports were set to resume within three days after the Tripoli-based Presidential Council agreed to pay salaries of petroleum facilities guard members at the ports, the PFG commander, Ibrahim al-Jedran, said on Thursday.

The agreement by the UN-backed unity government to pay security guards at the ports, if it has been reached, sets a “terrible precedent” and invites extortion by militias, National Oil Corp. Chairman Ibrahim Sanalla said in a letter to UN Special Representative Martin Kobler, who met with al-Jedran on Thursday at Ras Lanuf.

“Right now we’re at a stalemate,” Riccardo Fabiani, North Africa analyst with the Eurasia Group, said by phone from London.

“The sticking point throughout these negotiations has been how much money al-Jedran gets for reopening the ports. It will take some more weeks, but I think the reopening will happen. It’s just a matter of the two sides reach an agreement on the money.”

Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels per day of oil before the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Output has withered since then to 320,000 bpd, data compiled by Bloomberg show, as the country fragmented and militias vied to control energy facilities.

Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, split into separately governed regions in 2014, leading to the establishment of competing NOC administrations.

The Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, is trying to extend its authority over the rest of the country. The NOC’s rival administrations agreed to unify under a single management, in a step that Sanalla said at the time would help stabilize the government. Libya’s oil facilities and ports have come under frequent attack since Gaddafi's ouster five years ago, leading to the slump in its crude output and exports.