NOC cuts kerosene deliveries to the East, rejects accusations of partisanship
On 6 September, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared that it was restricting kerosene supplies to the eastern regions under the control of the Libyan National Army. This decision intervenes as several NOC officials have anonymously stated that the NOC has been concerned that kerosene fuel shipments have been apparently appropriated to assist in the Libyan National Army (LNA) campaign in southern Tripoli. The effort also comes amidst reports that the eastern based authorities are attempting to establish a firm to import fuel outside of the international-recognized NOC and violation of International and Libyan Law. These accusations have been refuted by the eastern-based deputy prime minister Abdel-Salam al-Badri.
While the NOC has claimed to be impartial, the cuts to the fuel to the east are no doubt an effort to curb the LNA’s aerial bombardment of Tripoli and its humanitarian consequences. However, the NOC is unlikely to want to be seen as provoking the LNA or to effectively diminish its relationship with the eastern authorities – who control almost all sources of NOC’s oil. From January to March of this year, the NOC rhetorically opposed LNA attempts to gain control of the Sharaha oil fields in southern Libya, and only acquiesced to the development once it was a fait accompli. Moreover, at that time the NOC refused to lift force majeure on Sharara field until it received specific guarantees from the LNA about the security of its staff. Indeed, the NOC appears to be upholding its own brand of internal politics, seeking to be seen outwardly to put the safety of its staff and the Libyan public first before any politics.
Despite the good intentions of this move, it is likely that NOC’s detractors will seize on it to show that the NOC supports the Government of National Accord (GNA). Nonetheless, the likelihood of a full-scale rupture of NOC/LNA relations leading to production being shut-in across Libya, remains low in the short term.