Libya: Cyrenaica severs ties with state oil company

Libyan oil fields14 November 2013, Tripoli — Libya’s eastern zone had already declared political autonomy. This week, it also broke from the state-run oil company.

Speaking in Ajdabia, “Political Bureau of Cyrenaica” (PBC) head Ibrahim Said al-Jadhran announced the formation of the “Libyan Oil and Gas Corporation”.

“The wealth belongs to the entirety of Libya,” he told the press on Sunday (November 10th).
The Executive Bureau of Cyrenaica issued a resolution to form the new company, which will begin operations in Tobruk before moving to Benghazi.

“We are waiting for the reaction of the territories of Tripoli and Fezzan. We hope they co-operate with us,” Executive Bureau chief Abed Rabbo al-Barasi said.

“After that, we will sell oil and will keep the shares of the territories of Tripoli and Fezzan from the oil sales, and we will not touch those proceeds,” he said.

The move comes a fortnight after al-Barasi announced 24 portfolios for administration of the territory, which covers an area extending from the Wadi-al-Ahmar to the west, the Egyptian border to the east, the sea to the north and the border with Chad to the south.

The territory is overseen by al-Jadhran, who led the oil port blockades in Zueitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf and Sidra. In the latest Libya port blockade action, federalists last week prevented an Italian vessel from transporting crude oil to the refinery of Zawiya.

“The weakness of the government is what gave al-Jadhran the opportunity to escalate the situation,” Benghazi TV editor Moataz al-Majbari pointed out.

“The government of Zidan had a chance to end the crisis after it garnered popular support. The proof is that Libyan tribes and cities protested when al-Jadhran closed oil terminals,” he said.

The TV editor also raised questions about al-Jadhran’s move to sever ties with the National Oil Corporation (NOC).
“Al-Jadhran stated repeatedly that he protects oil from being sold illegally,” al-Majbari told Magharebia. “Now we see al-Jadhran appointing himself owner of this oil and not a protector. He will sell it illegally because he is not a legitimate party.”

“Besides, the real reason behind the crisis is selling oil without metering units and now al-Jadhran is announcing the sale of oil but still without installing metres,” the broadcaster said.

Al-Majbari added, “Libyan oil is not the property of a territory, it belongs to all Libyans and cannot be used to pressure political parties.”

Citizens also voiced concerns about the new Cyrenaica oil company. “If oil is divided and every territory takes its own share of the wealth, then the country is partitioned and will become three separate countries,” Tripoli schoolteacher Salma Masrati told Magharebia.

Benghazi academic researcher Mahmoud Ahmed Zaqhob is worried by the fluidity of the Cyrenaica situation.
“Every day it’s something new. ‘Political Bureau’… ‘Executive Office’… ‘Federal army’… ‘Oil Corporation’… this is dangerous for Libya,” Zaqhob said.

“The federal system is sweet when it unites people and bitter when it divides them,” he added. “My biggest fear is that the oil that united Libya in the past divides it now.”


About the Author