The US called Wednesday on Libyan leaders to immediately end the continued closure of oil sites and ports, stressing that such practices cost the country additional millions and risk an environmental disaster.
In an unusual tone, the US embassy in Tripoli issued a statement expressing Washington’s “deep concern” over “the continued oil shutdown, which is depriving Libyans of substantial revenue.”
It said this situation contributes to increasing prices, “and could lead to electricity blackouts, water supply problems, and fuel shortages.”
It said responsible Libyan leaders must recognize that the shutdown harms Libyans throughout the country and has repercussions across the global economy, and should end it immediately.
“The US reminds Libyan leaders of the multiple UNSCRs that protect the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and reaffirms our commitment to work with Libyan leaders on a mechanism that will give the Libyan people confidence that the country’s revenues are being distributed for the benefit of the Libyan people,” the Embassy statement stressed.
Libyan oil output has been subjected to repeated closures due to political disputes, security threats and workers’ protests, depriving the Libyans from oil, which constitutes 98% of the country’s exports and fiscal revenues.
This month, individuals opposed to the National Unity Government put pressure on the workers in Al-Sharara oilfield, forcing them to gradually stop production and led Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) to declare force majeure at the site.
Oil production was also halted from Libya’s El Feel oilfield and Zueitina oil port following similar protests calling for Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah to resign.
Defending its views concerning oil in Libya, the US Embassy statement said that prior to the shutdown, Washington had recommended an incremental transfer of revenue subject to monitoring and oversight by a Libyan-led financial mechanism. However, Libyan leaders independently decided to make more substantial transfers.
It even said that Washington advised and continues to advise the creation of a temporary Libyan financial mechanism with broad support to address how Libya’s revenues should be spent in the absence of an agreed national budget.
“Such a mechanism could be used by Libyan authorities to give the Libyan people confidence regarding how oil revenues from the NOC would be used and to prevent the diversion of funds for partisan political purposes that could undermine Libya’s peace and security,” it noted.
The Zueitina Oil Terminal is situated at the Gulf of Sirte, 180 km south west of Benghazi and around 850 km east of Tripoli.
The terminal alone accounts for almost a quarter of the 1.2 million barrels of oil Libya produces per day, driving NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla to warn from the repercussions of the shutdown on the living conditions of Libyans, particularly in light of the increasing prices of oil and gas worldwide.
Also, the country’s Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Aoun said that the closure of several oil sites this month has seen Libya’s output halve to around 600,000 barrels per day.