Bashagha Takes Steps to Lift Libya’s Oil Blockade

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On Wednesday, Libya’s Prime Minister-designate, Fathi Bashagha called on the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla to “propose a mechanism to preserve and safeguard oil revenues” in exchange for communicating with the protesters and lifting the blockade on oil exports.

The latest round of protests has disrupted operations at the 300,000 b/d El-Sahrara and 70,000 b/d El-Feel fields, as well as the Zueitina and Marsa El-Brega terminals. The smaller Abu Al-Tilf, Intisar, Nakhla, and Nafoora fields have also been forced to cut output. Armed clashes were reported at Libya’s largest operational refinery, the 120,000 b/d Zawia facility. Several storage tanks were damaged in last week’s fighting, according to the NOC.

In a statement, Bashagha said that his government made urgent and extensive contacts with the protesters, who “stipulated a freeze on oil revenues in exchange for reopening the oil fields.” He added that they denounced the lack of transparency in distributing oil revenues by the outgoing Government of National Unity (GNU), headed by Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba.

“The protesters also called for a specific mechanism to ensure that oil revenues are not tampered with, or used for political purposes. We ask you to keep the revenues in the Corporation’s accounts, until a budget law is issued by the Parliament,” he added.

Earlier today, the United States Embassy in Libya stated that they remain “deeply concerned by the continued oil shutdown, which is depriving Libyans of substantial revenue, contributing to increasing prices.”

The statement stressed that the shutdown could impact the country’s ability to “utilize this infrastructure in the future to reach its full production potential.”

It called on responsible leaders to “recognize that the shutdown harms Libyans throughout the country, and has repercussions across the global economy.”

Oil output has been subjected to repeated closures in the decade since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi. It was shut down entirely for months during fighting in 2020.

Libya’s political process has broken down again this year, after the collapse of elections scheduled for December. This prompted the eastern-based Parliament to appoint a new government, led by Bashagha.

Dbaiba has since refused to quit, and remains entrenched in Tripoli. This has risked a return of fighting, and threatened territorial divisions between rival factions.