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Libya appeals for help amid political, economic chaos

Libya appeals for help amid political, economic chaos
Libya’s prime minister is reaching out for international help amid political turmoil and stunted oil exportation which has cost the country $130 million a day.

Ali Zeidan met with Britain’s David Cameron Tuesday, as Libya continues to be mired in post-Western intervention disarray following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The overthrow has not yielded a conciliatory political climate as many had hoped. 

Violence, militias and political activists have cut off most of Libya’s oil fields and ports since July, overwhelming the government’s young army and police force.

"If the international community does not help in the collection of arms and ammunition, if we don't get help in forming the army and the police, things are going to take very long," Zeidan said while speaking at a Libya investment conference in London. "The situation is not going to improve unless we get real and practical assistance."

Zeidan told Cameron he’d like to reduce the number of arms flowing through Libya, while peacefully reaching out to militia members in an effort to provide support. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) welcomes his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan upon his arrival for a meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on September 17, 2013. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

"We are going to work on solving this problem," he said. "When blood is shed, the loss will be greater.”

Libyan officials said oil production has opened more in the west, but still remains stunted in the east.

The General National Congress has negotiated with an armed group to reopen the El Sharara oilfield. Disruptions in production have cost the country and partners $7.5bn, a board member at the National Oil Company said.

The renewal of El Sharara is expected to increase Libyan oil production to 400,000-450,000 barrels per day (bpd), Libya's deputy oil minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters.

Nevertheless, major energy companies are reducing operations in Libya. ExxonMobil is cutting back its involvement in Libyan oil production, saying increased instability is not worth a large presence.

Royal Dutch Shell has abandoned exploration on two Libya blocks, and Marathon is pondering the sale of its part in a major Libyan oil consortium, sources said in July.