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London — The head of Libya's state-owned oil company has called out foreign powers for meddling in the country's oil sector, accusing them of preventing the North African producer from restarting production.

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National Oil Corporation Chairman Mustafa Sanalla also said he was deeply concerned by the presence of Russian and other foreign mercenaries, who had recently entered the 300,000 b/d Sharara field to meet with the petroleum facilities guards.

"We do not need Russian and other foreign mercenaries in Libyan oilfields whose goal is to prevent oil production," said Sanalla. "Libya's oil is for the Libyan people, and I completely reject attempts by foreign countries to prevent the resumption of oil production."

The Sharara and El Feel fields, located in the southwest of the country, remain shut down after they were briefly reopened earlier this month, with Libya's oil sector still at risk from armed groups as civil conflict escalates in the country.

Libyan crude production is currently as low 70,000-80,000 b/d, less than a tenth of levels before January 18, when an oil port blockade began thwarting the country's crude output.

Production is now at its lowest since September 2011, when a civil war led to the downfall of Moammar Qadhafi.

Foreign interference

Libya's current civil conflict has recently resembled more of a proxy war, with many foreign countries involved.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey and Qatar while its rival, the self-styled Libyan National Army, is supported by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with Libya's oil and gas facilities caught up in the dispute.

Sanalla acknowledged that many countries were benefitting from the absence of Libyan oil from global markets.

"Some of them cynically express their public regret for Libya's continued inability to produce oil while all the time working in the background to support blockading forces," he added.

Libya is also part of the OPEC+ alliance which includes Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UAE, though the country remains exempt from the historic 9.7 million b/d production cut accord.

The return of Libyan production could further slow the rebalancing of the oil market and add to tensions brewing over OPEC+ compliance and the economic needs of some producers such as Mexico, Nigeria and Iraq.

Earlier this week, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi threatened direct military intervention against the Turkey-backed GNA forces.

The GNA have been striving to move eastward toward the oil-rich Sirte Basin into the eastern stronghold of the LNA.