Oil has left Libya ports for European waters, a spokesperson for the nation's oil company said. Photo by cherezoff/Shutterstock
TRIPOLI, Libya, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- A tanker filled with more than 700,000 barrels of oil has left Libya for Italy from a port closed for about two years, according to published reports Wednesday.
Citing an unnamed and unquoted spokesman for the Libyan National Oil Co., The Wall Street Journal reported that a tanker filled with 740,000 barrels of oil left the Ras Lanuf port Tuesday evening and another tanker with 574,000 barrels is on schedule to leave for Spanish ports for Wednesday.
Libyan authorities took brief control over oil terminals. The NOC in a statement Monday called for the resumption of pipeline transit from oil fields in southwest Libya, saying the stoppage of oil has led to a financial loss for the country of more than $27 billion.
"The events in the Oil Crescent must have made it clear to everybody that the use of blockade as a tactic in our politics is a dead end," NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement.
By his estimates, if security lasts, oil production can recover to around 600,000 barrels per day with a month, to 900,000 bpd by the end of the year and return to pre-war levels of around 1.2 million bpd within 12 months.
Libyan oil production declined nearly 7 percent from July to August and is more than 70 percent less than peak levels before the outbreak of civil war.
The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States last week expressed concern about security at oil terminals in Libya. All parties were called on by the NATO allies to avoid action that could damage Libya's energy infrastructure or further disrupt its exports.
Forces loyal to a Libyan military leader in the east of the country gained leverage over four oil ports, driving out an armed unit backed by the government in Tripoli, which has the support of the United Nations.
Martin Kobler, the U.N. special envoy for Libya, said military action in oil terminals was in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions dealing with the security of energy infrastructure in the country. Attacks on oil installations, he said, could widen the gap between rival power structures in Libya and lead to great instability in a country torn in half by civil war.
Libya's political environment fractured in the wake of civil war in 2011, with factions establishing authority from opposite sides of the country. The country in July moved to reopen some of its oil terminals, which were idled for nearly two years by threats from rival internal powers.