Dubai — The UK has called for an end to the oil blockade in Libya and reaffirmed its support for state-owned oil producer National Oil Corp. as the only independent entity in charge of the North African country's energy industry.
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The self-styled Libyan National Army has taken over two major oil fields in Libya in their quest to wrest control of the energy industry from the UN-backed Government of National Accord, which is also supported by Turkey and Qatar. The LNA is supported by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia
"Reports of interference by foreign mercenaries in Sharara oil field are troubling," the UK embassy in Libya said in a statement on July 4. "Militarization of Libya's energy sector is unacceptable and risks further damage."
The conflict between GNA and LNA has escalated in recent months, with Libya's oil and gas facilities caught up in the dispute.
The GNA has recently gained ground against the LNA led by Khalifa Haftar, which has halted the latter's offensive into Tripoli. The GNA has been striving to move eastward toward the oil-rich Sirte Basin into the eastern stronghold of the LNA.
But the 300,000 b/d Sharara and 75,000 b/d El Feel fields remain in the hands of Haftar, supported by Russian mercenaries.
The embassy said Libya's energy industry should not be used as a "political bargaining chip."
"The UK affirms its support for the National Oil Corporation (NOC) as Libya's sole independent oil company charged with stewardship of Libya's oil," the embassy said. "The NOC should be allowed to resume production unimpeded for the benefit of all Libyans."
NOC is still preparing for a resumption of oil production and exports from its eastern terminals but it continues to wait for the Petroleum Facilities Guard in the eastern region to lift the oil blockade.
Force majeure on crude loadings out of the terminals of Marsa el-Hariga, Brega, Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina remain in place, as the ports are still being blockaded by the guards, NOC said on July 1.
NOC is still in talks with regional countries and the Government of National of Accord under the supervision of the UN and the US to restart its oil output.
Libya is currently pumping around 80,000 b/d compared with around 1.10 million b/d before the blockade, which began on Jan. 18, caused a collapse in oil production.
NOC said it had instructed all oil operators to start "preparing for production, maintenance and progressive operation of the fields."