Libya: oil output plummets as rival regimes fight

Libya's oil output dropped below 400,000 barrels per day after the divided country's internationally recognized government in the east sent troops of the Petroleum Facilities Guard to close the port of Zueitina on Nov. 5, charging that tankers seeking to load crude there had failed to register with the National Oil Corporation (NOC). Vessels registered with the rival NOC headquarters in Tripoli are "illegitimate" and won't be permitted to load at the port, Petroleum Guard spokesman Ali al-Hasy told Bloomberg by phone. The Tripoli-based NOC declared force majeure and said in a statement that the port was closed for all exports due to a "deteriorated security situation." Libya, with Africa's largest oil reserves, pumped about 1.6 million barrels per day of crude before the 2011 revolution. Libya is currently the smallest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. (More at Hellenic Shipping News, Maritime Executive, Aramco FuelFix, Nov. 5)

The closure of Zueitina came the same day that International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expressed optimism on Libya's peace dialogue. "The ongoing national dialogue facilitated by the United Nations, towards the establishment of a Libyan Government of National Accord, represents hope for transition to national unity and durable peace," Bensouda said as she presented her latest report on the situation in the country to the Security Council.

At the same time, Bensouda said she is concerned that large scale crimes—including those potentially under ICC jurisdiction—are being committed by all parties in the conflict. She specifically named the National Army loyal to the eastern regime, the Libya Dawn militia alliance that serves as the armed force of the western regime, and militants who have proclaimed for the Islamc State. "I remain equally concerned that all sides including the Libyan National Army (LNA), Libya Dawn, and the so called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL; and their respective allies, and international actors continue to commit attacks resulting in civilian casualties," she stressed. (UN News Centre, Nov. 5)

Bensouda has been seeking to bring Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to justice at The Hague—an aim blocked in part by the ongoing division of Libya.

The Zueitina facility has also been repeatedly closed by labor unrest since the 2011 revolution—most recently in May, when unemployed workers demanding jobs blocked the pipeline leading to the port. (Reuters, May 5) A US Energy Information Administration chart indicates that the current 400,000 bpd brings Libya's oil output to its lowest level since the revolution.

  1. Libya: the irony of intervention —again

    We must point out again that, contrary to the vulgar conspiracy theory advanced by the grevious Glenn Greenwald among many others, things have worked out terribly for Western oil companies in Libya. They had been doing fine there under the dictator Qaddafi—and are now paralyzed… If the NATO intervention was aimed at greater imperial control over Libya's oil, it was a dismal failure. That's for sure. Yet the West seems content to let the Libyan war grind on, without any further military intervention. How does this square with the conspiracy theory? No really, we want to know.

    Don't be shy, Glenn.