Libya’s oil production can resume as soon as possible but with safeguards in place to prevent proceeds from fuelling further conflict in the north African country, a senior UAE official tweeted on Monday.
Libya has been divided since 2015 between areas held by an internationally recognized government in Tripoli, backed by Turkey, and a rival administration linked to the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi, backed by the UAE, Russia and Egypt.
Libya recently accused UAE of instructing forces it backs in Libya’s civil war to reimpose a blockade of oil exports.
Oilfields and export facilities are mostly in territory held by the LNA of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar. But an international agreement says that oil can only be exported by the Tripoli-based NOC, with payments going to the Central Bank there.
Ankara’s backing has helped the GNA to drive the LNA from Tripoli, which it had besieged, and the northwest. Any further advance by the GNA would give it the chance to retake control over Libya’s ‘oil crescent’, the region where most of the OPEC member’s energy is produced and exported.
NOC resumed force majeure on oil exports after the LNA said on Saturday the blockade would continue despite it having let a tanker load with oil from storage.
It was not clear which safeguards the UAE wants in place but the LNA said it would keep the blockade until oil revenues are channelled into a new bank account based outside the country to then be distributed regionally.
The LNA added other conditions including the establishment of a “transparent mechanism” to oversee public spending and an audit of the Tripoli-based central bank.
NOC also tried to restart production at the Sharara oilfield, but said this effort was quickly shut down, and it accused Russian mercenaries fighting alongside the LNA of deploying there.