Libya’s oil chief issues fresh warning about the impact of blockades

Libya’s oil chief issues fresh warning about the impact of blockades
Published: 29 January 2020 - 3:15 a.m.
The head of Libya’s national oil firm said on Monday that if the global community tolerates the ongoing blockade on the country’s oil industry it would be “complicit” in ending the rule of law in the country.

The 11-day blockade has so far shut down fields and ports in the east and south of Libya and caused production to nosedive to just 262,000 bpd from around 1.2 million.

Libya's oil production has fallen by almost 80 percent since forces loyal to self-styled General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army imposed a blockade on the OPEC producer's five key ports, prompting Libya’s state run National Oil Corp (NOC) to declare force majeure on exports from the terminals, NOC said on Sunday.

“The international community has to understand that if it rewards, or even tolerates, those who break the law in Libya, then it will be complicit in the end of the rule of law in our country. And that means more corruption, more crime, more injustice and more poverty,” said Engineer Mustafa Sanalla, NOC chairman, speaking at London’s Chatham House think tank.

Sanalla spoke about the devastating long-term effects the recent port blockades would have on the Libyan economy and the lives of normal Libyans.

“We fully acknowledge there is corruption and injustice in Libya. We are all disgusted and angered by the economic situation. But acting illegally by blocking Libyan oil production will just lead to the further impoverishment of the Libyan state and erosion of the rule of law. We were told that NOC will not receive the requested budget it needs for its ambitious programme to expand oil production – that means billions less for the Libyan people in future years.”

Sanalla also said the "technical and environmental effects" of the blockades could be disastrous, corroding pipelines and causing leaks for years.

The NOC has said the blockade was ordered by Haftar’s forces though Haftar’s backers have sought to portray the stoppage as the result of popular pressure.

Haftar, who controls most of Libya’s oil fields and ports, has been waging a military offensive since April to take control of Tripoli.

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