MSN - Libya’s oil industry was thrown into deeper confusion with military commander Khalifa Haftar, a key player in the nation’s civil war, warning he would continue to blockade ports and fields, barely a day after the state energy company said exports could resume.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army had allowed a tanker to load about 730,000 barrels of crude from the eastern port of Es Sider on Friday, with the cargo bound for Italy. That was an exception and other shipments will be banned until the warring sides agree to distribute oil money more fairly and to audit the Tripoli-based central bank, which handles energy revenue, the LNA’s spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, said in statement posted on Facebook on Saturday night.
The National Oil Corp., also based in Tripoli, reimposed force majeure late Sunday on all shipments. It had only lifted force majeure, a legal status protecting a party if it can’t fulfill a contract for reasons beyond its control, two days earlier, shortly before the Aframax vessel Kriti Bastion entered Es Sider.
Haftar’s decision is “gravely disappointing,” the NOC said in a statement.
At least three oil firms had already stopped production or canceled plans to restart. The operators at the western field of Sharara, Libya’s biggest, were set to pump 40,000 barrels a day from Sunday but held back after Haftar’s announcement, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Harouge Oil Operations halted Amal, an eastern deposit that had only just reopened.
The NOC said in its statement that Russian and Syrian mercenaries had occupied Es Sider, while others were camped near Sharara. It urged them to withdraw from both places.
The reversal reflects the chaos that has engulfed Libya, an OPEC member and home to Africa’s largest crude reserves.