The president of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) Mustafa Sanalla held discussions with Repsol executives regarding the future of the largest field in the western region of Libya. Both parties manifested their concern over the fate of this field, which has been closed since December since it is located in the center of conflict after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
The field was closed in December 2018
On December 17, NOC declared force majeure on its largest field in the country, occupied since early December 2018. During said weeks, security controls were violated and the facilities were looted. El Sharara had a production capacity of 315,000 bpd. NOC ultimately decided to close it.
Last Wednesday, news broke that forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar expelled local militias hired by the two oil companies. Haftar’s militia took one of the wells and are negotiating the fate of this site with northern militias and troops supporting the government.
However, the report was denied by troops loyal to the Tripoli-based government. In the meantime, the field is losing thousands of oil barrels per day. Sanalla had already warned back in January that the attacks could destroy El Sharara’s system and impact Libya’s economy.
“The legitimate and rightful concerns of the Southern Libyan communities are being hijacked and abused by armed gangs, who instead of protecting the field to generate wealth for all Libyans, are actually enabling its exploitation and looting,” (Reuters)
Consequences for the government of Tripoli
If Haftar were to overtake the field, it would nearly declare victory over the Tripoli-based government, backed by the UN, given that:
- It would eliminate one of its funding sources.
- It would also eliminate the main electricity source in the region.
For their part, executives at NOC and Repsol manifested that El Sharara will not resume operations until safety conditions are regained.
For more information, check Energía16