Intel: Production allowed to resume at Libya’s largest oil field as talks progress

al-monitor A picture taken on June 3, 2020, shows an oil refinery in Libya's northern town of Ras Lanuf. Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

Oct 13, 2020

Oil production has been allowed to resume at Libya’s Sharara oil field, the country’s largest, amid an international push toward a cease-fire in the war-torn country.

Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) said Sunday it was lifting its force majeure on Sharara, a move welcomed by the United Nations.

The NOC lifted its force majeure on exports from the Hariga, Brega and Zuweitina terminals last month. Major oil terminals at the ports of El-Sider and Ras Lanuf are still closed, however, due to the presence of militias there.

Why it matters:  The resumption is the latest sign that the two main sides in Libya’s civil war are willing to cooperate on trust-building measures amid a UN-led push toward an enduring cease-fire.

In control of a majority of the country’s oil fields and enjoying the support of Russia and the United Arab Emirates, eastern Libya’s Gen. Khalifa Hifter declared an oil blockade in January, costing both sides billions of dollars in oil revenue as his year-long offensive against Tripoli faltered.

Following calls for a cease-fire and a UN-led push for dialogue, Hifter agreed to a temporary resumption of production last month. In return, the NOC said it would lift its force majeure on oil facilities not occupied by militias or foreign mercenaries.

Talks between the two sides wrapped up in the Egyptian resort town of Hurghada late last month with praise from the United Nations.

With US diplomatic support, the UN-led cease-fire initiative has included the prospect of a demilitarized zone along the Sirte-Jufra line that divides the rival sides.

What’s next:  Military representatives of the two sides are set to meet in Geneva on Oct. 19. The first meeting of the United Nations’ Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, consisting of selected participants who are to disavow political ambitions in any future government, will begin early next month in Tunisia, the United Nations said Saturday.

The Tunisia summit will aim to lay groundwork for unifying the Libyan governments and pave the way for “the holding of national elections in the shortest possible time frame,” according to the United Nations.

Know more:  With the introduction of Russian fighter aircraft and air defense systems to Libya, the Pentagon is seeking to court Algeria as Washington’s next potential strategic partner in North Africa.

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