Libya’s warring sides have agreed to unify forces protecting oil facilities, following UN-sponsored talks with the head of the country’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla. This was in the presence of the Petroleum Facilities Guard’s (PFG) commanders in Eastern and Western Libya, Major General Naji Al-Maghribi, and Brigadier General Ali Al-Deeb.
The talks were held on Monday in Brega, part of the coastal area known as the Oil Crescent that is believed to hold most of Libya’s oil.
“Today in this historic location, at this historic moment, we launched a process to unify the petroleum facilities guards,” Stephanie Williams, the acting head of the UN’s Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), told reporters in Brega.
Sanalla stated that the main aim was to create a new protection force that would be made up of civilian and military personnel, and its leader would be affiliated with the NOC. He added that it was agreed during the talks to form an operation cell that would include representatives and experts from the PFG, and be under the auspices of UNSMIL.
Williams confirmed that the United Nations supported oil companies that help contribute to enhancing oil production, and support Libyan sovereignty over them.
She added that the meeting builds on a ceasefire signed in Geneva, last month. Since then, delegates from the two sides have met several times to discuss implementing the ceasefire, including opening a main coastal route to allow the passage of civilians.
Oil exports are the main source of national income for Libya, a country that has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. It has since been divided into two rival camps based in the country’s east and west – which in recent years have been vying for power.
Earlier this month, the NOC said production of Libyan crude oil exceeded 1,000,000 bpd, the same level before the blockade began in January. Monday’s talks were held as part of continuing military discussions between the two sides.