War hurting Libyan oil, but NATO rules out intervention

NATO reaffirms that its combat mission in oil-rich Libya ended in 2011.

By Daniel J. Graeber

BRUSSELS, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- With conflict curbing Libya's oil potential, NATO officials said they've reviewed the situation, but have not discussed any military role in the country.

Last weekend, the oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were shuttered because of armed clashes in the region. Combined, the two ports can handle 560,000 barrels of oil per day, about half of the country's total export capacity.


Libyan stability since the end of civil war in 2011 has faltered amid clashes between armed groups fighting for more control over the oil-rich country. Pre-conflict oil production was higher than 1 million barrels per day, though output has slumped recently to as low as 330,000 bpd because of clashes in and around key oil fields.

Leaders from the North Atlantic Council, NATO's highest decision-making body, met last week in Jordan with African leaders to assess the national security situation in Libya, which has sparked concerns among countries sharing a border with the North African nation.

A NATO official told UPI on background Friday that, despite enduring security post-civil war security challenges, the alliance is not discussing any military action in Libya.


NATO in 2011 carried out a U.N. mandate to protect the Libyan people from attacks by forces loyal to late leader Moammar Gadhafi. That mission ended in October 2011, the official said.

The International Energy Agency at the height of the civil war called on member states, including the United States, to release oil from their strategic reserves to offset crude oil shortages from war-torn Libya.

With the United States producing more than 9 million bpd on average, markets have since adjusted to the low output from Libya.

On the security front, the U.N. Support Mission in Libya said Thursday parties to the conflict were taking steps "in the right direction" through dialogue.

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