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Libya’s NOC welcomes opening of ports

By Reuters - Jul 31,2016 - Last updated at Jul 31,2016

Libya has had rival parliaments and governments since 2014, after the terrorist group, known as Daesh and militias, overran Tripoli and forced the internationally recognised administration to flee to the remote east of the oil-rich nation (AFP photo)

TRIPOLI — Libya's state oil company on Sunday welcomed the "unconditional" reopening of blockaded oil ports, following a controversial deal between the UN-backed government and a force that controls key eastern terminals.

The agreement, signed on Thursday, could be a major step in reviving Libya's crippled oil output.

But it had been questioned by National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Mustafa Sanalla, who had warned against rewarding groups that shut down production and complained that the NOC lacked funds for its own operating budget.

In a statement sent to journalists on Sunday, the NOC said the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) had released money that would allow it to increase production by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) within two weeks. The NOC said it aims to gradually increase output to 900,000 bpd by the end of the year.

Political disputes, conflict and security threats have slashed Libya's oil production to less than a quarter of the 1.6 million barrels per day the OPEC member was producing in 2011, before the uprising that toppled Muammar Qadhafi and sent the country into political turmoil.

Details of the deal between the GNA and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) to reopen the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Zueitina, have not been made public, but the GNA said they included an unspecified amount for PFG salaries.

Sunday's statement from the NOC said Mousa Al Kouni, a member of the GNA's leadership or presidential council, had assured Sanalla by telephone that the ports would be reopened "without conditions".

"I am pleased the presidential council agrees that we cannot reward individuals who hold Libya's oil hostage," Sanalla said.

 

"There can be no backroom deals if we are to build trust. Any past salary payments to the Petroleum Facilities Guards need to be transparent, properly authorised and documented."

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