Several Libyan oil sites now at a standstill after Fathi Bachagha was denied entry to Libya
Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) announced on Monday the halt of operations at two major oil sites, the Zouetina terminal and the Al-Charara field, after several other facilities were shut down in connection with protests and political rivalries.
The blockades come at a time when Libya, struggling to turn the page on the years of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime overthrown in 2011, is in the grip of a serious institutional crisis, with two rival executives.
In February, the parliament in the east of the country appointed Fathi Bachagha as the new head of government. But he has still not succeeded in ousting the current executive in Tripoli led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who refuses to hand over power until elections are held.
Considered close to the eastern camp, the groups blocking the oil sites are demanding “equitable distribution” of revenues and the transfer of executive power to Mr. Bachagha.
The suspension follows the refusal to let Prime Minister Fathi Bachagha enter Libya. After meeting in Tunis with several military officials from the west, Libyan Prime Minister Fathi Bachagha attempted to enter Libya to reach Tripoli through the Tunisian border, but was prevented by forces loyal to the government of Abdelhamid Dbeibah.
As a result, oil exports have been suspended after the closure of several oil fields and terminals in the south and east of the country, occupied by civilian groups sympathetic to Fathi Bachagha.
In a statement, the NOC regretted “the beginning of a painful wave of closures” of oil facilities, “while oil and gas prices are soaring” on international markets under the impact of the war in Ukraine. After the “forced closure” on Sunday of the al-Fil field (south), employees working in facilities in Zouetina (east), Mellitah (north-west), al-Sarrir (east) and Al Khaleej (east) have been “forced to stop production completely and gradually”, according to the company.
Production “at the Abu Al-Tifl (east), al-Intissar (east), al-Nakhla (east) fields” also ceased on Sunday as did gas production at plants affiliated to these sites and at the port of Zouetina, where “a group of individuals forced their way in to force employees to stop operations,” the NOC said.
A few hours later, the NOC announced that it was “forced to declare a state of force majeure until further notice on al-Sharara field,” one of the country’s largest fields located in the southwest of the country. “A group of individuals pressured workers at the al-Sharara oil field, forcing them to gradually stop production,” said a statement from the NOC.