NOC: Losses from closure of oil facilities have reached $2.708 billion, production down to 119,867

Alwasat - Cairo Thu 05 Mar 2020, 11:23 PM
alwasat radio

Economic fallout continues from a protracted blockade of Libya’s vital oil fields and ports, with losses close to $2.708 billion, the national oil corporation announced Thursday, intensifying the pressure on a U.N.-supported government in the capital.

Powerful tribes loyal to Libya’s eastern-based forces seized large export terminals and choked off major pipelines in January, aiming to starve the Tripoli-based government of crucial revenues.

The eastern-based forces, led by military commander Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive in April to capture Tripoli, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government. The fighting for Tripoli has ground down to a stalemate in recent months.

The National Oil Corporation, which dominates Libya’s critical oil industry, said Tuesday the losses as of Thursday were $2.708 billion since Jan. 17.

Libya’s oil and gas production have been consistently down since the shutdown of oil facilities, with daily production dropping to 119,867 barrels a day on Thursday, the NOC said.

The corporation warned of “potential fuel shortage in the coming days,” and complained of lack of funding to import sufficient fuel.

Oil, the lifeline of Libya’s economy, has long been a key factor in the civil war, as rival authorities jostle for control of oil fields and state revenue.

Libya has the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world and the biggest oil reserves in Africa.

The closure of the oil facilities was seen as part of Hifter’s efforts to capture Tripoli and punish adversaries there for sealing security and maritime agreements with Turkey, opening doors for military support from Ankara.

The shutdowns also come against the backdrop of a crumbling cease-fire mediated by Russia and Turkey, which support opposing sides of the conflict in the North African country.

The U.N. envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame announced his resignation on Monday, throwing U.N.-led efforts to end the conflict into further chaos.

Salame, 69, said he was stepping down on health grounds after he tried to “unify the Libyans, curb foreign interference and protect the country’s integrity” since his appointment in July 2017.

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