By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 12 July 2016:
The internationally-recognised Presidency Council (PC) and its Government of National Accord (GNA) say the central region oil fields could restart production “within days” if negotiations with Ibrahim Jadhran are successful.
The negotiations are said to include the reopening of the Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil terminals.
The prediction was made by PC member Musa Koni at a press conference yesterday at the prime ministry offices on Tripoli’s Triq Al-Sikka (Railway Road) shortly after PC head and acting prime minister Faiez Serraj formally took over the building.
Claiming the move heralded the GNA starting to work, Koni said that if the talks were successful, force majeure would be lifted. He warned, though, that production would not be that same as before, but did not say why.
However, oil industry officials report that production capacity at the some of the fields has suffered because of lack of maintenance as well as damage from fighting. One estimate is that 200,000 b/d has been wiped off central region production as a result of one or the other.
In his statement, Koni did not mention Jedhran by name, speaking instead of the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG). However, as head of the region’s PFG, Jedhran makes all its decisions.
He supports the GNA but it is unclear how firm that support is, or will remain. There are suggestions, however, that he also has links with the Benghazi Defence Brigades, which are opposed by the GNA. Their main target is Khalifa Hafter, who is also Jedhran’s principal opponent.
It is thought that any deal about reopening the oilfields will involve large sums of money.
Meanwhile, although the east and west branches of the NOC are supposedly uniting their operations, it is not clear how any attempt to restart production in the central region oilfields – in effect those in the Sirte basin – will be received by Hafter.
Any blatant attempt by him and the Libyan National Army to stop this happening would almost certainly lead to accusations that he was trying to sabotage the Libyan oil industry, with sanctions as a serious possibility.