The European Union shows full support for Libya's National Oil Corporation's (NOC) initiative to resume both oil production and export after the months-long blockade imposed by the rebel forces headed by warlord Khalifa Haftar ended last month on major oil fields in southwestern Libya, a top EU official said in a statement on Wednesday.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell’s remarks came during a meeting with the NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla on Tuesday.
Borrell praised the NOC for its neutrality and effective contribution to Libya’s economic recovery, while also affirming the EU's support for the NOC initiative aimed at resuming both oil production and export.
These and other steps, he said, would serve to ensure financial transparency and restore security of NOC facilities.
Sanalla, for his part, said the ongoing conflict in Libya has nothing to do with the allocation of oil revenues; rather, it is a dispute between parties seeking to control the wealth of the Libyan people.
Commending the EU efforts to lift the blockade imposed on oil facilities since January, Sanalla stressed the important role played by the EU in supporting the NOC’s initiative to resume the country's oil production.
Libya has the largest proven crude oil reserves in Africa at 48.4 billion barrels. Natural gas and oil income represent approximately 90% of the government’s revenue.
Libya's internationally-recognized government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
Oil production has almost come to a standstill in the country after pro-Haftar groups shut down oil facilities in eastern parts of the country in January to squeeze resources of the UN-recognized Libyan government.
On Aug. 19, the east Libya-based warlord Haftar lifted the blockade on ports and oil facilities.
Libya exports oil mainly to Italy, France, Spain and Germany. However, the Libyan economy has experienced a significant decline because of political unrest and a corresponding decline in production in oil fields under the control of Haftar forces.
By Sibel Morrow