NATO allies fret over security of Libya's oil

Rebel forces descended on oil installations just as confidence was returning to the OPEC contributor.

By Daniel J. Graeber

March 7 (UPI) -- The escalation of violence in and around the oil installations of Libya are cause for growing international concern, a joint statement from NATO allies said.

A joint statement from the French, British and U.S. ambassadors to Libya voiced strong condemnation over the escalation of violence that threatens Libyan oil and the associated infrastructure.


Libya's political and national security situation has oscillated between near-collapse and near-recovery since the fall of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi after civil war erupted during the Arab Spring democratic uprisings that began in 2011. Once a main contributor to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the nation's oil wealth has been in the crosshairs of the fight for post-Gadhafi control over Libya.

A report Monday in the Libya Herald cited Egyptian leaders as criticizing Libyan leaders for missing a "historic opportunity" to unite under a U.N.-backed reconciliation effort. The report said more than 70 members of the Libyan House of Representatives boycotted a meeting to elect members to a dialogue committee amid frustrations over the capture of oil terminals by rebel factions.

"We reaffirm the need to keep oil infrastructure, production and export under the exclusive control of the National Oil Corp., acting under the authority of the Government of National Accord," the statement from the NATO envoys said, referring to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.


With Libyan unity once again threatened, Chairman of the NOC Mustafa Sanalla said last week the company was standing in line behind the structures of power in Tripoli. Until recently, Libyan security had improved to the point that international players like Austrian energy company OMV were returning to work there.

"Our objective is to maximize production and oil revenues and we made good progress in the last few months in recovering production levels and increasing exports, which are national priorities," the NOC chairman said in a statement Friday.

Libya is exempt from a managed production decline agreement from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries aimed to offsetting the supply-side pressures that pushed crude oil prices to historic lows early last year.

Secondary sources told OPEC that Libya produced 675,000 barrels of oil per day in January, a gain of 10 percent from December. Sanalla said Libya set a goal of producing 2.1 million barrels per day by 2022 with the help of foreign investments.

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