NOC ‘hopeful’ that negotiations will lead to oil blockade being lifted
On 29 June, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) confirmed that there have been ongoing negotiations to resume oil production over the past few weeks between the Government of National Accord (GNA), the NOC and regional countries, under the supervision of the UN and the US. The same day, the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council of Libyan Sheikhs & Elders, Sheikh al-Senussi al-Haleeq, announced their demands for ending the oil shutdown, as part of the international negotiations referred to by the NOC. Haleeq said that they want an international bank account to be established in which all for Libya’s oil revenues will be deposited. This must be under the auspices of the UN and the revenues would then be funneled to Libya’s three regions (East, West and South). He stressed that the revenues cannot be used for military purposes.
According to informed sources, the talks are broadly between the US, the UN, the GNA, and the NOC one side, and France, the UAE, the LNA, and Saudi Arabia on the other side. However, in the day-to-day it is the US, the UN and the NOC interfacing with the French, who in turn are acting on behalf of the Emiratis. Each side is pushing alternative proposals, with the main focus on how to fairly distribute the oil revenues. The US-led proposal is for Libya’s oil revenue to be held for four months in the NOC’s reconciliation holding account at the Libyan Foreign Bank prior to it being remitted to the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) ‘after reconciliation.’ The UAE/ France proposal is that a UN-administered fund is set up – this is essentially the proposal put forward by Haleeq
At this stage, it remains unclear how a UN-managed international bank account for Libyan oil revenues would be established or managed. Although the NOC and the Americans are more optimistic about lifting the oil blockade than they have been in months, the NOC’s cautious language and Haleeq’s broad brush demands highlight that there is likely a way to go before the finer details of any deal can be agreed, and longer still before it will be put into effect. It is important to note that nothing which is being discussed is a permanent solution. It is a way to get oil restarted in a face-saving way for the East which averts the need for the Turkish/GNA forces to reconquer the Oil Crescent.