East Libya vows to punish oil firms backing rival govt
September 20 2015 11:01 PM
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A general view of pipelines at the Zueitina oil terminal in Zueitina, about 120km (75 miles) west of Benghazi, Libya (file). Libya, with Africa’s biggest oil reserves, pumped about 1.6mn bpd of crude before the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42- year rule. It’s now the smallest producer in Opec, producing 355,000 bpd in August, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Libya plans to boost oil output to 2mn bpd; National Oil Corp seeking to lift force majeure at oil ports

Bloomberg
Valletta, Malta



Libya’s internationally recognised government plans to boost oil production five-fold and will punish companies working with a rival cabinet striving to control the divided North African nation’s crude deposits.
Oil companies operating in Libya or seeking to do so must register with the National Oil Corp controlled by the elected government based in the country’s eastern region, Deputy Prime Minister Abdussalam Elbadri said on Wednesday at a conference in Valletta, Malta. The NOC will refuse to renew the contracts of any companies that don’t support the elected government, NOC chairman Nagi Elmagrabi said in an interview in Valletta. The country plans to boost crude output to 2mn bpd by 2020, he said.
“We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognised and legal government,” Elmagrabi said. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.”
Tribal and political disputes have almost completely halted onshore crude output in the western region, where a government backed by moderate Islamist militias has held power since last year. The nation’s elected government is based in the east, where some oil continues to be exported. Libya, with Africa’s biggest oil reserves, pumped about 1.6mn bpd of crude before the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42- year rule. It’s now the smallest producer in Opec, producing 355,000 bpd in August, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Coast guard forces loyal to the Islamist-backed government seized a Russia-flagged tanker in Libyan waters that they suspected of involvement in fuel smuggling, Lieutenant Colonel Tawfiq Sakir said by phone late on Wednesday. The forces escorted the ship to a naval base in the capital Tripoli, where the crew were being interrogated, he said.
Like Libya’s political leadership, the NOC has competing eastern and western administrations that are trying to control energy facilities and fields. The NOC’s eastern-based management is seeking to lift force majeure at oil ports in that region, Elmagrabi said in a speech, without giving dates for such a step. Force majeure, a legal status protecting a party from liability if it can’t fulfil a contract for reasons beyond its control, was declared at the ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf in December after they came under attacks.
The elected government is taking measures to secure its revenue from oil sales. The government opened an account last month at the Arab International Bank in Cairo where it can receive payments in foreign currency, Ali Hebri, the eastern- based central bank governor, said in an interview. Authorities can transfer money from this account to the central bank in the city of Al Bayda, the eastern government’s seat of power, he said.
The central bank sees crude prices, which tumbled by about 50% last year, dropping below $40 a barrel, Hebri said. The price slide, along with Libya’s turmoil, is discouraging foreign investors, and the country will need at least two years to attract the investment it needs to increase output beyond 1.6mn bpd, Hebri said.
Companies that support the internationally recognised government will be rewarded and given priority in future energy contracts, Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said at a news conference in Valletta. Any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action, he said. “We will give them time to review their position, and then we will take them to arbitration,” Khalifa said.
About 30 foreign companies signed up to attend the conference in Malta’s capital, though officials declined to identify them. “The major oil companies stayed away” because they don’t want to appear as if they’re taking sides in Libya’s political struggle, Khalifa said.
“This philosophy of ‘you’re either with us or with them’ is not going to work,” said Edward Loyd, chief executive officer of Loyd Capital Management, an oil-industry investment company with headquarters in Newport Beach, California. “There is no harm in registering with the government that is recognised by the US government, but the US majors that stayed away from this event and that continue to deal with Tripoli are not willing to rock the boat and change how they operate in Libya if there is no agreement by the two sides.”
UN-sponsored talks held in Morocco to form a united government hit a snag when the internationally recognised cabinet said on Tuesday it had recalled its team after their rivals insisted on re-opening and adjusting the text of the agreement. The two administrations can’t agree on the composition of a presidential council and won’t reach a consensus before this week on forming a unity government, said Elbadri, the deputy prime minister.
“There will be an agreement, not on September 20, but there will be one,” he said in an interview.
Should the competing sides restore peace to the country, Loyd, the US oil investor, said he would “absolutely” be willing to invest there. “Libya has a sweet crude that’s needed,” he said.

Libya plans to boost oil output to 2mn bpd; National Oil Corp seeking to lift force majeure at oil ports


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