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Libya government warns oil exports by rival administration 'illegal'

Libya's economy relies heavily on oil [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 June, 2018

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The country's National Oil Corporation warned any purchase contracts signed with the eastern administration would not be honoured.

Libya's UN-backed government warned on Tuesday that any new attempt by a rival administration in the east to export oil independently will be stopped after the region's military strongman handed it control of key ports.

"Exports by parallel institutions are illegal and will fail as they have failed in the past," said the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla.

The self-styled Libyan National Army of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced on Monday that all future revenues from the eastern oil ports which it controls will be handed to the unrecognised administration in the east after it recaptured two of them in 10 days of deadly fighting with a rival militia.

The Benghazi-based authorities made a similar attempt to bypass the Tripoli government in April 2016 but their planned sale of 300,000 barrels of crude was stopped by the UN Security Council.

"UN Security Council resolutions are very clear - oil facilities, production and exports must remain under the exclusive control of (Tripoli-based) NOC and the sole oversight of the (internationally-recognised) Government of National Accord," Sanalla said.

"We are confident that the GNA and our international partners will take the necessary steps to stop all exports in breach of international law."

The NOC warned it would sue any company that tried to buy oil from the eastern authorities and that no purchase contract signed with them would be honoured.

"There is only one legitimate NOC, recognised by the international community and OPEC," Sanalla said, in reference to the rival NOC set up in the main eastern city of Benghazi.

Libya's economy relies heavily on oil, with production at 1.6 million barrels per day under slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi's 2011 ouster saw production fall to about 20 percent of that level, before recovering to more than one million barrels per day by the end of 2017.

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