East Libya Oil Exports to Resume Thursday After Diplomatic Deal

  • Arabian Gulf Oil Co. planning to load tanker at Hariga port
  • Shipment to be first since accord between East, West Libya

Oil exports are set to resume Thursday from the port of Hariga in eastern Libya, easing a bottleneck and allowing for crude production to increase after competing administrations of the state-run National Oil Corp. reached an agreement in the divided country.

The tanker Seachance is loading 650,000 barrels of crude at Hariga for the U.K., Omran al-Zwai, a spokesman for NOC unit Arabian Gulf Oil Co. known as Agoco, said by phone on Thursday. The cargo would be the first international shipment from Hariga since the United Nations blacklisted a tanker last month following complaints from authorities in the west of the country. NOC’s competing leaderships reached an agreement to resume exports from Hariga earlier this week.

Agoco will be able to boost crude output to 120,000 barrels a day from 90,000 before the shipment, Al-Zwai said, as the company’s production has been limited by a lack of storage at the port. Libya produced a total of 310,000 barrels a day in April, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Unity Government

Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, split into two separately governed regions in late 2014, one based in the western city of Tripoli and the other run by an internationally recognized government in the east. The political divisions were mirrored by rival NOC administrations in the east and west of the country. Libyans are currently working to set up a Government of National Accord, with the support of the U.S. and European nations.

The competing NOC administrations agreed to restart shipments from Hariga after holding talks in Vienna earlier this week, Elmagrabi said Monday. Officials at the western NOC administration in Tripoli couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The shipment from Hariga comes after Agoco reached an agreement on Wednesday with the NOC’s eastern administration to restart international exports from the port, said Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern NOC.

Authorities in East Libya tried and failed in April to sell crude independently. A tanker was forced to return with its cargo after Malta’s government refused to let the vessel dock and the UN added the shipment to its sanctions list. While Libya’s eastern region holds large crude deposits, traders such as Glencore Plc and Vitol Group have recognized the NOC leadership in Tripoli in the west as the nation’s official crude marketer.

Libya pumped about 1.6 million barrels a day of crude before the 2011 rebellion that ended Moammar Al Qaddafi’s 42-year rule. It’s now the smallest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Since Qaddafi’s ouster and death, armed militias have also competed for control of the nation’s oil facilities.

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