United States warns Libya

marché du pétrole

The U.S. ambassador to Tripoli, Richard Norland, warned Wednesday the rival protagonists in Libya against using oil “as a weapon” in their political squabbles that have largely paralyzed the oil industry since April.

“The United States continues to support the vast majority of Libyans who want elections and demand that the country’s oil wealth be managed responsibly,” said Norland, who is also U.S. special envoy for Libya, according to an embassy statement.

United States warns Libya

Based in Tunis because of the precarious security situation in Libya, Norland made the statements after a rare two-day visit to Tripoli during which he met with several Libyan officials.

“It is alarming that some, for short-sighted interests, use the oil sector as a weapon or have unilaterally taken decisions that affect the use of Libya’s oil revenues,” he added.

Thus, since mid-April, political divisions have had an impact on Libyan oil production, the country’s main source of revenue. The tug of war between two rival governments is leading to the closure of many sites.

Libyan production a victim of instability

The National Oil Company (NOC) warned on Monday that it could declare “force majeure” on the facilities in the Gulf of Sirte (north), unable to meet its contractual commitments due to their forced closure. Invoking the “state of force majeure” allows the company to be released from its contractual obligations while exonerating it from any responsibility for their non-performance.

Plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 and plagued by divisions between the east and west of the country, Libya, which has the most abundant reserves in Africa, is in the grip of a serious institutional crisis.

In fact, two governments have been vying for power since March: one based in Tripoli and led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah since 2021 and another led by Fathi Bachagha and supported by the camp of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of the east.

In mid-April, for example, groups close to the eastern camp forced the closure of six oil fields and terminals. They demand the transfer of power to Mr. Bachagha.

Although Mr. Haftar controls some of the oil fields, the central bank manages the revenues. This one is in Tripoli. The governor is known to be close to Mr. Dbeibah.

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