Libya raises alarm over illegal sales of crude by groups

Libya raises alarm over illegal sales of crude by groups

 Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it had identified “illegal” efforts by individuals and groups to sell the country’s crude without its approval.

The NOC, in a statement, warned potential buyers not to enter into such contracts.

“NOC identified a group of individuals abusing the current status of political division in Libya by entering into illegal contracts with unknown or unqualified companies.

“These individuals and others associated with them have offered Libyan crude oil for sale at huge discounts below the official selling price,” NOC said without providing detail on who was involved.

It added that this could cost the state of Libya hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

It reasserted that it was the only body authorised by U.N. resolutions to export crude oil and oil products from Libya.

The corporation said that only the 16 international oil companies that had contracts with it could buy oil or charter tankers from Libyan ports.

It warned that entering into contracts with other buyers could lead to “serious legal consequences and financial losses” for those concerned.

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“We call for all parties (fighting to take control of the oil ports) to exercise restraint, avoid military solutions and resolve differences through political processes,” the statement said.

Factions based in eastern Libya have previously tried to sell oil independently of NOC in Tripoli, but their moves have been frustrated by U.N. resolutions that remain in place.

The eastern forces lost and regained control of the key oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf this month, angering eastern factions that accused their western rivals of backing the temporary seizure of the ports.

Some eastern officials cast doubt on arrangements under which oil produced in the east is sold by the Tripoli NOC with revenues processed by the central bank in the capital.

However, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was confident of regaining control over oil operations following the fighting and that operations at the terminals had restarted.

Since 2014 Libya has been divided between factions based in Tripoli and the east of the country, with rival governments, financial institutions and armed forces competing for power.

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The eastern government set up its own branch of the NOC in Benghazi but has never gained control over oil operations.

Libya’s oil production has more than doubled since last year to about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) but remains well below the 1.6 million bpd the OPEC member was exporting before a 2011 uprising.

On Friday, ambassadors for the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council reaffirmed their support for the Tripoli NOC, saying it should retain “exclusive stewardship” of Libya’s oil resources. (Reuters/NAN)

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