Libya’s strongman in the east, General Khalifa Haftar, is selling through illegal corporations oil pumped in areas in eastern Libya under the control of his forces, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
Turkey supports the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been fighting with Haftar’s forces for control of Libya and its oil riches.
Haftar has signed an agreement to form a parallel company to sell oil from Libya, security sources told Turkish IHA news agency. Haftar’s corporation is reportedly selling the oil to another company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The report of parallel oil sales highlights the division in Libya since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi ten years ago.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) blocked Libya’s oil export terminals in January last year, which led to crude oil production in OPEC’s North African member to plunge from 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 100,000 bpd.
Haftar’s forced lifted the blockade on Libyan oil fields and terminals in the middle of September 2020, which allowed the country—exempted from the OPEC+ cuts—to start restoring its oil production.
The faster-than-expected production increase in Libya added another headache to OPEC and the oil market in assessing demand and supply balances while the pandemic is still suppressing demand.
Two months after the eight-month-long blockade on Libyan oil ports ended, the country had already reached the level of production from before the blockade—1.2 million bpd.
The recovering production in Libya, however, saw disruptions last month, and the country was producing slightly less in January compared to December, the monthly Reuters survey found last week. A leak that forced the shutdown of an oil pipeline reduced Libyan oil production by as much as 200,000 bpd for a week, while the Petroleum Facilities Guard briefly shut down the Hariga oil port in eastern Libya after the National Oil Corporation delayed the payment of salaries for its members.