Libyan Oil Minister Rejects Foreign Interference

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The Libyan Minister of Oil and Gas in Libya’s outgoing Government of National Unity (GNU), Mohamed Aoun rejected Western proposals to create an international mechanism to manage oil revenues. This is until the internal disputes between the GNU, and the new government over power, are resolved.

Aoun said in statements to Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, that these proposals are “a derogation from Libyan sovereignty.” He expressed his regret over the internal voices supporting these proposals.

The Minister called for the removal of “agents of the countries interfering in the Libyan affairs from decision-making positions.” He also called for “keeping the conflicting parties away from oil revenues owned by the Libyan people.”

Aoun denounced statements by officials, such as the Chairman of the National Oil Company (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla about the possibility of Libya becoming an alternative source for Russian gas to Europe.

“This is hollow talk and has nothing to do with reality, and whoever says it, is trying to sell illusions,” Aoun said.

He pointed out that Libya’s ability to export sufficient quantities depends on the development of a number of fields discovered some time ago.
“This may take from 3-5 years to develop the oil and gas fields,” he concluded.

Last month, Aoun said that Libya is unable to replace Russian oil exports to Europe at present.

“Libya is unable at the present time to become an alternative to Russian oil for the European Union. Perhaps this will be achieved within five or seven years,” the minister replied to a question from the Russian RIA Novosti Agency.

He also stressed that Libya does not have the ability now to export oil to Europe via the “Green Stream” company line, explaining that the amount of Libyan production is currently allocated to the consumption of power stations and others in Libya.

“I do not think in the near future, that we will have the ability to increase any quantities of gas for export. I do not think that it will be in the effective quantities that can resolve the shortage crisis in the European Union.”

Notably, the United States Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland proposed a mechanism to manage the flow of Libyan oil revenues to help the current political crisis, as two rival prime ministers vie for power.

In an interview with Reuters, Norland said that the rival factions in the country have argued over who gets to control oil production, sales, and revenues for years. This has fuelled the political chaos and violence, that has ravaged Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Any threat to Libya’s output, which has topped 1.3 million barrels per day in recent months, would hit markets already reeling from the Ukraine crisis.

“The issue is to reach an agreement on the best way to make sure that Libya’s oil wealth is employed where it’s needed to help people, and that it’s monitored so that people can be confident it’s not being diverted for political uses or for inappropriate uses,” Norland said in an interview.