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18 Jan, 2020 13:22

Libyan National Oil Corporation declares ‘state of emergency’ after Haftar’s forces close eastern oil ports

Libyan National Oil Corporation declares ‘state of emergency’ after Haftar’s forces close eastern oil ports

Libya’s national oil company has declared a “state of emergency” after exports of its oil from the ports in the eastern part of the country were blocked by forces loyal to the Libyan National Army's General Khalifa Haftar.

The Petroleum Facilities Guard – a militia that controls major export terminals in eastern Libya – has ordered local subsidiaries of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), who run them, to cease all operations, the firm said in a statement.

The move makes any export of oil from Libya impossible, the company then warned, adding that it would lead to losses in crude oil production amounting to 800,000 barrels per day, as well as daily financial losses estimated at about $55 million.

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Formed amid the chaos of the Libyan conflict in 2012, the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which seized control over the oil export terminals in 2013, has repeatedly changed sides throughout the Libyan civil war and briefly aligned itself both with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as having sought to sell oil on its own. In July 2019, the guard once again struck an alliance with the LNA, which, so far, has not commented on the latest development.

The Facility Guard's order comes less than a week after the leaders of the two major warring parties met in Moscow to discuss a ceasefire between them. Although LNA chief Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj, the GNA prime minister, eventually failed to reach an agreement, both sides have still respected their truce, at least until now.

The closure of the ports has been imposed just a day ahead of the next Libya peace summit, due to be held this weekend in Berlin and expected to be attended by representatives of major global powers and Libya's rival camps. The UN Support Mission in Libya has expressed its “deep concern” over the disruption of oil production. UN officials warned about “devastating consequences” such a move would have for the nation’s economy and for its people, and urged all sides to “exercise maximum restraint.”

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