On July 12, Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) accused the United Arab Emirates of instructing the eastern forces responsible for Libya’s civil war to reimpose an oil blockade on exports. That happened after the departure of the first oil tanker in the last six months. The forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar insist that they want a fair distribution of the oil revenues that are managed by Tripoli.
Russia, the UAE, and Egypt support the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar. On July 11, the group said that the oil blockade would continue despite it allowing a tanker loaded with oil to depart from storage.
Libya sits atop Africa’s biggest proven crude oil reserves. It is torn between the rival powers in the form of the eastern-based Haftar and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. A statement read on Sunday:
“NOC has been informed that the instructions to shut down production were given to (the LNA) by the United Arab Emirates.”
LNA and the UAE did not offer a response to NOC’s accusation although force majeure on all oil exports were resumed.
Haftar remains on the back foot after Turkish support enabled the GNA to turn back his 14-month assault on Tripoli. After the GNA gained some ground, NOC also attempted to restart production at the Sharara oil field; but his effort was rapidly shut down. He accused the Russian mercenaries of fighting alongside the LNA.
On July 10, the Vitol tanker Kriti Bastion docked and went ahead to load at Es Sider port; before sailing on Saturday. That was the first legal export of Libyan oil since the oil blockade was imposed in January. The NOC claimed that Russian and Syrian mercenaries that were fighting alongside the LNA now occupied Es Sider.
Based on international agreements, only NOC can produce and export oil; and the revenues must flow into the Central Bank of Libya. Both of these institutions operate from Tripoli, the seat of the GNA.
The LNA said on July 11 that it would continue the oil blockade until several of its conditions were met. One of these conditions was channeling oil revenue into a new bank account; that is based outside Libya to ensure that the acquired sums of money are distributed regionally.
On Sunday, the US Libya embassy said that the resumption of the oil blockade came after several days of intensive diplomatic activity. That happened to enable NOC resume output; and the embassy said that it regrets that several foreign-backed efforts had impeded NOC’s activities.