Libya to Resume Oil Exports from Major Ports

Libya to Resume Oil Exports from Major Ports

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Libya's state oil company chief said exports are to resume in coming days after a rival faction had seized oil facilities. The takeover had raised fears of conflict over control of Libya's primary commercial export.

The chairman of the National Oil Company (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla, said Thursday that exports would resume immediately from two of the ports, continue at a third and resume from a fourth "as soon as possible."

On Sunday troops loyal to a controversial military figure named Khalifa Haftar - an outspoken opponent of the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and backer of a rival administration in eastern Libya - seized control of the export hubs Zuwaytina, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Al-Sidra in the so-called oil crescent, Deutsche Welle reported.

The four oil terminals had been guarded by members of the Petrol Facilities Guard (PFG), allied with the GNA, but were quickly taken over by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA). The takeover had raised fears of fresh conflict over control of Libya's oil.

However Sanalla said the facilities were under the control of the NOC and that both the Tripoli-based UN-backed government and a rival parliament based in Tobruk, eastern Libya, supported reopening the ports.

"(This) had the potential to escalate, with potentially devastating consequences for the nation and our petroleum industry," Sanalla said. "Instead, we have found a shared interest in letting the oil flow, and the wisdom of that decision needs to be recognized."

On Twitter, United States special envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer called reports that the military had withdrawn from oil terminals and left control to the NOC a "promising development."

News agency AFP reports that Winer had told them in a telephone interview that no action would be taken against the oil exports, provided the proceeds went into Libya's central bank and the GNA supported it.

"If oil were to be diverted… the US will seek to enforce UN Security Council resolutions," Winter said.

The North African country's economy is heavily dependent on oil exports, but five years of political turmoil since the 2011 uprising and NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi has resulted in a drastic reduction in oil output. The chaos has also provided favorable conditions for people smugglers and armed extremists, including Daesh (also known as ISIL or ISIS) group.

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