Decision on Control of Seized Libya Oil Ports Seen This Week

  • Eastern-based assembly to decide on control of key facilities
  • Decision expected later this week, LNA spokesman says

Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar said they were waiting for orders from regional authorities before handing over key oil installations they retook this week.

“This is a matter for the parliament and the leadership to decide,” Libyan National Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Al Mismari said in a news conference on Wednesday, referring to the House of Representatives, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk. Later, in an interview with Sky News, he said he expected to be notified on Thursday or Friday.

Haftar’s forces recaptured Es Sider, Libya’s biggest oil port, and Ras Lanuf, its third-largest, after a week of clashes that curbed oil production. The fighting, including airstrikes, dealt a blow to international efforts to restore stability in the holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves. The facilities had been seized by a rival group earlier this month.

Libya split into separately governed regions in 2014, leading to the establishment of competing National Oil Corp. administrations. A deal meant to unite them under a single management, hailed as a step toward healing the political divide, was signed in July 2016. The future of that accord now appears uncertain.

In a statement dated March 13, Nagi Elmagrabi said his eastern-based NOC was pulling out of the unification deal because some terms of the agreement, including transferring headquarters to Benghazi, were yet to be met. The House of Representatives’ energy committee said in an emailed statement it also considers the deal over, but there was no immediate comment from NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla, based in Tripoli, or the assembly’s media office.

Earlier this week, the eastern assembly voted to withdraw its support from the United Nations-backed peace deal that paved the way for a Government of National Accord based in the capital. Despite having approved the accord, it had never endorsed it in a vote and refused to coordinate with the GNA.

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