Libya’s ational oil company announced Friday it has resumed crude exports, ending a months-long blockade that eastern tribes had called to protest revenue distribution in the country.
The National Oil Corporation said the resumption of exports from Libya started on a small scale, and would reach just 650,000 barrels a day by 2022 because extensive repairs, costing “billions of dinars,” are needed in the facilities following months of neglect.
The corporation also lifted force majeure on all oil exports, promising to fulfill its existing contracts for the first time since January.
Libya on Friday shipped 730,000 barrels of crude oil from Es Sider, the country's largest port, to Italy, according to Ali el-Farsi, the spokesman for the Waha Oil Corporation. The tanker was flagged under Liberia.
“We are finally getting back to production and staying away from political conflict,” el-Farsi said. “We are not supporting any one government, we are just oil workers who want to get our salaries again.”
The National Oil Corporation said recent high-level negotiations over resource distribution with the Tripoli government — supervised by the U.N. and the U.S. and involving other “regional countries” — had helped restart exports.
“We are very glad to finally be able to take this important step to national recovery,” said Chairman Mustafa Sanalla. He thanked “all parties” for a successful round of discussions, without elaborating.
The U.S. Embassy in Libya welcomed the resumption, saying the National Oil Corporation would work with the U.N. to ensure “that revenues are not misappropriated but rather preserved for the Libyan people.”
Italy, a key player in the North African country with its oil giant Eni, also hailed the announcement. Italy's foreign ministry said the shutdown had “provoked enormous damages to the finances of Libya and aggravated the humanitarian conditions of the Libyan people.”
The ministry called the announcement “an essential condition so that Libya can proceed in the path of stabilization and pacification."
Libya, which holds Africa’s largest proven reserves of oil, is exempt from the historic cutback agreement by major oil producers to boost oil prices during the coronavirus pandemic.