By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 February 2019:
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, said the Sharara oilfield force majeure will remain in place due to security and not technical reasons.
In a video address released this morning on the situation at the Sharara oil field, Sanalla said that the NOC was technically ready to lift the state of force majeure at Sharara, but the issue remains security. Force majeure will be lifted once the workers’ safety is guaranteed, he added.
Sanalla said that the NOC received a letter from Libya’s Union of Oil and Gas Workers, stating that the staff at Sharara do not feel safe and cannot work with the presence of the armed groups. He added that the NOC has a moral and legal responsibility to protect the oil workers.
Sanalla called on all the concerned parties and the General Command of the Libyan National Army to remove the armed groups from the field, adding that once that is done, the state of force majeure will be lifted immediately afterwards.
Sanalla stressed that the NOC has a good relationship with the General Command (of the Libyan National Army – LNA ) in the Eastern and Western regions and wishes the same for Sharara.
The statement by Sanalla came after media reports from Sharara that technically it was ready for operation. This raised hopes in Libyan media that the oilfield was about to reopen.
However, it seems Sanalla is digging his heels and wanting to be seen to be tough on the blokaders. He has always insisted that he would not be extorted.
Sanalla would not yield to pressure even from Serraj and the UAE after his recent visit to Abu Dhabi. He wants to send a clear message to any possible future protesters.
Moreover, his comments about his good relationship with the Khalifa Hafter-led LNA only further strengthens Hafter’s hand and standing. Sanalla is appealing to Hafter rather than his prime minister and government in Tripoli.
By publicly doing this, he is confirming the pivotal role of Hafter and his LNA in securing Libya’s oilfields elsewhere and is requesting the same for Sharara.
This sends totally negative signals about the role of the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) and the de facto strength, effectiveness and reach of the Serraj government.