LNA blockades Oil Crescent ports, shutting in 800 000 BDP of production
On 17 January, a meeting of influential tribal leaders from eastern Libya and the Oil Crescent region issued a call to close down all the oil ports under their control and by the end of the day, oil exports from Brega, Ras Lanuf, Hariga, Zueitina, and Sidra ports had been halted Kufra. On 18 January, the Supreme Council of the Oil, Gas and Water Basin (SCOGB) issued a statement confirming the closure of all oilfields in the area of Zilla, Marada, Awjila, Jalu, al-Jakherra, Tazirbou and Kufra. Although the tribes appeared to drive the closures, a blockade on this scale can only have taken place with express permission and support from the Libyan National Army (LNA). The LNA likely encouraged the blockade to strengthen its leverage prior to the Berlin negotiations and to highlight its territorial dominance.
On 18 January, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on Brega, Ras Lanuf, Hariga, Zueitina, and Sidra ports saying that the blockade instructions were issued by Major General Nagi al-Moghrabi, the commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) appointed by the LNA, and Colonel Ali al-Jilani from the LNA’s Greater Sirte Operations Room. The NOC said the instructions were given directly to the NOC subsidiaries in LNA-controlled areas – Sirte Oil Company, Harouge Oil Operations, Waha Oil Company, Zueitina Oil Company and Arab Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO). This blockade in the Oil Crescent has shut in 800,000bpd of crude – a daily financial losses of approximately $55 million per day – and prevented tankers from lifting.
Due to the Berlin conference taking place on 19 January, the international response to the blockade has been very muted. The United Nation Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the oil disruption and warned against devastating economic consequences, and the final statement from Berlin reiterated that the NOC is Libya’s sole independent and legitimate oil company and rejected any attempt at damaging Libya’s oil infrastructure or any illicit exploitation of its energy resources. On 21 January, the US Embassy in Libya issued a statement saying they are deeply concerned that the suspension of NOC operations risks exacerbating the humanitarian emergency in Libya and that NOC operations should resume immediately.