Petroleum exports resumed at oil ports along Libya’s coast on Wednesday after a temporary state of emergency was lifted, according to Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC).
The move comes after forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Haftar handed management of the Ras Lanuf, Sidra, Al-Zwaitina and Al-Harika seaports over to Libya’s Tripoli-based government.
In a statement, the NOC said national oil exports would soon return to normal levels now that export activity had resumed.
Italian Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Perroni hailed the move.
“Excellent results with the lifting of force majeure in the ports of the Oil Crescent and handover of facilities to legitimate NOC,” Perroni said on the official Twitter account of the Italian embassy in Libya.
He went on to describe Wednesday’s handover as “evidence that Libyans can work together for the greater good and put the interests of their nation first”.
Earlier this month, the NOC halted oil exports from the Al-Harika and Al-Zwaitina seaports -- a month after doing the same at Sidra and Ras Lanuf -- against the backdrop of a violent dispute between the company and forces loyal to Haftar.
At the time, the NOC had urged pro-Haftar forces to allow it to “carry out its responsibilities” as Libya’s only internationally-sanctioned authority for producing and exporting Libyan oil.
According to the NOC, the port closures had reduced daily oil production by some 850,000 barrels, costing the country an estimated $67 million per day.
Late last month, Haftar -- who was appointed military commander in 2015 by Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament -- captured several of the country’s most lucrative oilfields following clashes with a rival military force.
Haftar later handed control of the captured ports over to a rival petroleum company instead of the NOC.
The move prompted a storm of criticism inside Libya and serious concerns among major powers -- including the U.S., France and Italy -- regarding Haftar’s ability to manage the oilfields.
By Walid Abdullah in Tripoli, Libya