The Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) on Monday warned to declare a “force majeure” on its facilities in the northern Gulf of Sirte within 72 hours, as it is unable to meet its contractual obligations due to their forced closure.
“We are considering declaring a state of force majeure in the next 72 hours if oil production and exports do not resume at the Gulf of Sirte terminals,” NOC boss Mustafa Sanalla warned in a statement, calling on “all parties” to work for “the reopening of the oil fields and the resumption of exports”.
Invoking a “state of force majeure” allows the company to be released from its contractual obligations while exonerating it from any responsibility for its non-performance.
Plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 and plagued by divisions between the east and west of the country, Libya, endowed with the most abundant reserves in Africa, is in the grip of a serious institutional crisis.
Two governments have been fighting for power since March: one based in Tripoli and led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah since 2021 and another led by Fathi Bachagha and supported by the camp of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of the east.
In this context, six oil fields and terminals in the east of the country were forcibly closed in mid-April by groups close to the eastern camp, demanding the transfer of power to Mr Bachagha.
“Faced with a reality that is repeated with closures in the Gulf of Sirte region, there are those who try to demonise the oil sector in the capital, but we will not stand idly by,” Mr Sanalla warned, referring to his strained relations with Oil Minister Mohamad Aoun.
Despite the country’s oil wealth, Libyans face a dozen hours of power cuts a day, while the temperature hovers around 40 degrees.
The National Electricity Company (Gecol) lamented a “loss of about 1,000 megawatts” due to a disruption in gas supply caused by the blockades, Tripoli government representative Mohamed Hamouda said Sunday.
Mr Dbeibah has “temporarily suspended” the Gecol board pending an “administrative investigation”.