Libya’s State Oil Company Declares Independence

Via the Wall Street Journal, a report on Libya’s National Oil Company’s statements of neutrality in the conflict between the government based in Baida and the Libya Dawn movement:

Libya’s state-owned National Oil Co. has issued a declaration of independence.

The company said on its website Thursday it was neutral in the conflict between an internationally recognized government based in the country’s eastern city of Baida and Libya Dawn, a group of Islamist militias that control the capital of Tripoli.

The company said it “receives no directives from either the Tripoli- or Baida-based governments and operates in complete independence from both sets of authorities.”

As the keeper of the country’s most valuable natural resource, the National Oil Co. has been increasingly caught in the cross hairs of a violent struggle to rule Libya since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in a 2011 uprising. Its oil fields and pipelines have been crippled in recent weeks as saboteurs, a faction of Islamic State and militias have attacked its facilities, forcing production down to 500,000 barrels of crude a day—a third of its capacity.

A United Nations panel is trying to broker an agreement to form a unity government, but the talks haven’t been successful.

Because of its offices in Tripoli and the presence of some major pipelines and fields in its vicinity, the National Oil Co. had been seen as closer to the government aligned to Libya Dawn, which controls much of the country’s west. The company denies being allied with Dawn.

In recent weeks, the Baida government has moved to create its own petroleum firm, also called the National Oil Co., saying it “is the only legitimate channel that has the right to deal” in Libyan oil.

The dispute has added another layer to the country’s conflict. A tanker seeking to load crude at an eastern port drew threats of violence from Libya Dawn and legal action from National Oil Co.’s Tripoli office.

The National Oil Co. said it has always maintained its independence from Tripoli or Baida’s governments. Its management—including its chairman Mustafa Sanallah—were appointed before the current conflict’s outbreak.

Founded in 1970, the company is by far the largest in Libya and its production reached 1.7 million barrels a day before the revolution. It doesn’t disclose its revenue or how many employees it has.

The company said its revenues are deposited into the Central Bank of Libya, which also says its independent of any government.

Libyan oil and bank officials and a foreign refiner confirmed oil-export payments continued through the same channels as before the conflict. Civil servants have been paid regardless of their location in the west or east.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 20th, 2015 at 9:43 pm and is filed under Libya, Libya National Oil Company (NOC).  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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