LONDON — Libya’s Central Bank Governor Sadiq Al-Kabir called on the international community to help end a week-long shutdown of oil ports by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, likening the closures to a “bullet in the head.”
It is too early to assess the damage from the blockade that’s halted crude exports from the OPEC country and forced the National Oil Corp. to declare a force majeure on supplies, Kabir said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The shutdown comes after a year of economic growth and reforms in the war-torn country, which sits atop Africa’s largest oil reserves, he said.
Haftar, the military leader who controls critical parts of the country, crippled oil production and closed ports last weekend while haggling over a truce with the national government. The closure of oil ports resulted in output declining to 320,000 barrels a day from 1.2 million, and in losses totaling $256 million as of Jan. 18, Jazeera reported Saturday, citing the country’s oil national corporation.
One of Haftar’s main demands has been the removal of Kabir and a fairer distribution of oil revenues to support the historically marginalized eastern part of the country.
Kabir denied there is spending disparity. “The fair distribution is there,” he said, adding that the bank issues regular reports on its finances. Oil accounted for 93% of state revenues and 70% of spending, with a large portion going to public salaries, he said.
Kabir said he would be willing to step down if legal conditions in a 2015 United Nations political deal were met. The country has two rival governments, each controlling a parallel central bank and national oil company.
“We hope that there will be support from the international community to resume the production and export of oil, in a quicker way,” Kabir said.