Dubai — The Libyan National Army vowed to continue its oil blockade in the war-torn North African country unless its demands are met as the conflict between the self-styled army and the UN-backed Government of National Accord rages on.
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The LNA, backed by a host of countries including Russia and the UAE, started the oil blockade in mid-January, a move that has pushed Libya's oil production down to a trickle and cost the country over $6.5 billion in revenue losses.
"The ports and oil fields will remain closed until the demands and orders of the Libyan people are implemented," LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a statement broadcast on July 11.
He named three conditions to lift the blockade: opening a special bank account for oil revenue in an unnamed country outside Libya for equitable distribution; preventing oil revenue from funding "terrorism and mercenaries," and reviewing central bank oil revenue accounts over their spending in past years.
State-owned National Oil Corp., the producer and exporter of crude, was not immediately available to comment on the statement.
NOC is currently in charge of producing oil in Libya, while the central bank handles oil revenue, with both institutions based in the capital of Tripoli, which is under the control of the GNA. The LNA is based in the city of Benghazi in the east, where major oil fields and facilities are located.
The conflict between the GNA, which is supported by Turkey and Qatar and the LNA, led by General Khalifa Haftar and backed by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has hit the country's oil industry.
Crude production in Libya, which holds Africa's largest crude reserves, has been slashed to around 70,000 b/d-100,000 b/d in the past few months from over 1.1 million b/d before the blockade.
On Jan. 18, eastern tribes, supported by the LNA, halted exports from five key oil terminals, which dramatically reduced the country's crude production, with most of the crude that was exported being loaded directly from Mediterranean offshore fields.
The situation led NOC to declare force majeure on loadings from Marsa el-Hariga, Brega, Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and Zawiya. Force majeure for all these ports has now been lifted, the state-owned firm said on July 10.
NOC, however, cautioned that the output recovery would be slow "due to the significant damage to reservoirs and infrastructure" caused by the port blockade.