Skip to main content

Libya says oil blockade has cost $5 billion in lost revenue

The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation said the closure of oil facilities in January has led to billions in losses.
A view of the pipelines at Zueitina oil terminal, in west of Benghazi, Libya February 3, 2020. Picture taken February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori - RC2K2F9QGT9E

Libya has lost nearly $5 billion in revenue due to a months-long oil blockade imposed by eastern-based forces, the country's national oil company said Thursday.  

For the past year, warlord Khalifa Hifter and his self-styled Libyan National Army have been fighting the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) for control of the capital, Tripoli. 

In January, eastern tribesmen loyal to Hifter closed down several major oil ports and fields, accusing the UN-backed government of using oil sales to pay for mercenaries coming from abroad. By April, oil exports were down by 92%. 

In a statement Thursday, the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation said the drop in exports led to billions in lost revenue that would have helped pay for state expenses during the pandemic. It called for the continuation of oil production and exports "to support the national economy and protect it from consequences of bankruptcy and dependence on foreign banks."

Home to the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world, Libya’s economy depends heavily on oil production. The US State Department has warned a continuation of the blockade could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation in the country. 

Now in its sixth year, the war in oil-rich Libya has drawn in foreign players on both sides. The GNA enjoys support from Turkey, Qatar and Italy, while Hifter’s main backers include the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt. 

The military strongman’s efforts to capture Tripoli have stalled in recent weeks. His troops reportedly retreated from the southern front lines after GNA forces retook the key al-Watiya air base and several towns near the capital.   

The foreign minister of France, which supports Hifter, warned on Wednesday that Libya is further spiraling into a full-blown proxy war that could destabilize the region. 

“The crisis is deepening. We are facing a ‘Syrianization’ of Libya,” said Jean-Yves le Drian. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial