On Saturday, Eastern Libyan authorities threatened to halt oil exports in response to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU)’s perceived mishandling of energy revenues.
In a statement, the parliament-designated government accused the interim government of wastefully spending billions of dollars without delivering essential services, intensifying the political deadlock that has consumed Libya since the previous year.
In defiance of the interim government, a new administration was appointed last year by the parliament located in the east, but it has not been able to seize power in Tripoli so far.
The eastern administration warned, “If necessary, we will raise the red flag, curtail the oil and gas flow, and cease exports by invoking judicial intervention and declaring a state of force majeure.”
Post the NATO-supported uprising in 2011, Libya has witnessed numerous oil blockades, used as a political strategy by both major factions and local groups. A significant blockade was dissolved only last year when a new chief for the National Oil Corporation (NOC), reportedly an ally of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, was appointed by the Tripoli administration.
The path to a long-lasting resolution to Libya’s persisting conflict lies in holding national elections, a common objective publicly endorsed by all parties. However, this goal has been consistently thwarted by disagreements over election rules and the temporary control of the government.
Haftar has expressed his approval for the eastern parliament’s move to appoint a new interim government, thereby challenging the standing government based in Tripoli. As per a court ruling in eastern Libya on Thursday, the eastern administration successfully won a lawsuit against the NOC, gaining control over the company’s finances.
Libya, located in North Africa, is known for its rich reserves of oil, contributing a significant portion to the global supply. However, the country has been engulfed in conflict and political instability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi. The conflict has drawn in multiple local militias and foreign powers, creating a complex web of alliances and rivalries.
In the years following Gaddafi’s fall, the country has been split between rival administrations in the East and West, both claiming to be the legitimate government of Libya. These divisions have been exacerbated by the involvement of foreign countries supplying weapons, mercenaries, and financial support.
The oil and gas sector is central to Libya’s economy and has frequently become a point of contention in the conflict. Control over the country’s oil reserves and revenues has been a major point of disagreement. Both sides have attempted to seize control of oil fields and infrastructure, leading to significant disruptions in Libya’s oil production.
In the past, oil blockades have been used as a political tactic by local groups and major factions, affecting the nation’s economy and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The National Oil Corporation (NOC), recognized internationally as the only legitimate producer and exporter of Libyan oil, has been struggling to maintain operations amidst these disruptions.