Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Libya rivals fight for control of oil wealth

22 March 2015, 15:21

Al-Baida - The battle for Libya's oil wealth has taken on new dimensions as rival governments lay claim to the National Oil Company, further deepening divisions in the volatile North African nation.

The latest row erupted this week as UN envoy Bernardino Leon, who is mediating between Libya's warring factions, warned the country was heading towards destruction unless a political deal is found.

It also comes as the jihadist Islamic State group, which has made huge profits from illegal oil sales in Syria and Iraq where it has seized chunks of territory, has gained a foothold in Libya.

Also Read: Libya launches air strike on camp in Tripoli

The once lucrative oil industry has fallen victim to the unrest that has gripped the country since dictator Muammar Gadaffi was toppled and killed in the 2011 Nato-backed uprising.

Militants have stepped up attacks on the industry which had a pre-revolution output of about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for more than 95% of exports and 75% of revenues.

Ties severed with National Oil Corporation

The economy has been reeling since December, when production fell to around 350,000 bpd as the Fajr Libya militia alliance, which includes Islamists, attacked oil terminals in the east.

Fajr Libya seized Tripoli in the summer and installed a government and parliament opposed to the internationally recognised government and legislature elected in June.

On Monday, the recognised government, which sits in the remote east between the cities of Tobruk and Baida, severed ties the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation.

"The legitimate Libyan government... is the only legitimate channel that has the right to deal and to contract companies to authorise gas and oil sales," it said in a statement.

'A messy situation'

To be valid, such sales must be made via the new NOC headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi and approved by company chairperson Al-Mabrook Abu Seif, it said.

The statement, published on its Facebook page, did not elaborate on how new contract payments should be made, but anyone who violates its decisions will be prosecuted.

On Thursday, the NOC board in Tripoli hit back.

"The NOC's position is neutral and receives no directives from either the Tripoli- or Baida-based governments and operates in complete independence from both sets of authorities," it said in a statement in English.

Also Read: EU plans options for backing future Libya government

The NOC said it would continue to operate from Tripoli, where it was founded in November 1970, and would "remain an independent institution that operates outside political disputes".

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 revolt, with former rebels and powerful tribes vying for power in a state whose oil reserves are estimated by Opec at around 48 billion barrels.

"It really is a messy situation, with two governments, two parliaments, two heads of the same central bank, and now two NOCs!" said Valerie Marcel, an associate fellow at London's Chatham House.

The expert on oil and energy issues noted that "the two governments and their militias were already battling it out for control over oil production and export infrastructure".

'New level of complexity'

"Creating a rival NOC in Benghazi creates a whole new level of complexity and uncertainty for oil buyers," she said.

But Abu Seif, chairperson of the Benghazi-based NOC, disagreed.

"We sought to run the NOC in a neutral fashion but we have failed since Fajr Libya seized Tripoli and put the headquarters under its control," he said.

Abu Seif said he would respect the terms of contracts which have already been struck with the Tripoli headquarters - but stressed that new ones must get his approval.

Marcel said the internationally recognised government has a clear advantage over its Tripoli rival because it controls export terminals.

Also Read: Blast at police station in Libyan capital causes damage

This was not always the case.

In July 2013, rebels blockaded four export terminals to press for restored autonomy for the eastern Cyrenaica region, slashing output to just 200 000 bpd from 1.5 million bpd.

Under a deal with the then government, the rebels returned control of two terminals in April 2014 and the remaining two in July last year.

The deputy prime minister of the internationally recognised government, Abdel Salam al-Badri, has warned that dealing with NOC officials in Tripoli is "unlawful" and tantamount "to financing terrorist groups".



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...