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Libyan oil production drops by 35% during blockade

Libyan oil revenue has dropped by at least 35% in the month-long stand-off between Fathi Bashagha and Abdulhamid Dbeibah which forced several production facilities across the country to close in mid-April, according to oil-price.com.

Amid protests, armed attacks and blockades, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared a force majeure at al-Sharara and el-Feel oil fields last month, alongside other major sites.

The impasse has caused crude oil production to drop to its lowest point since the coronavirus pandemic hit Libyan energy producers hard in 2020.

Only this Thursday, armed protesters opened fire at Hariga port, attempting to stop a British tanker leave the quayside in Tobruk with 1 million barrels of crude oil bound for the UK.

“Yesterday, we received a tanker to ship one million barrels of crude, which will leave for Britain this afternoon. The tanker was not exposed to fire,” port controller Rajab Shahnoon said in a statement following the attack.

A string of closures followed the selection in February of a new prime minister, Fathi Bashagha, by Libya’s eastern-based parliament in a direct challenge to Tripoli-based interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

Analysts say eastern Libyan forces who back Bashagha have forced the closure of the oil facilities in a bid to press Dbeibah to step down, but the incumbent insists he will only hand power to an elected successor.

The latest blockade started after the NOC agreed to transfer $8 billion in oil revenues to Dbeibah’s government, angering Bashagha and his allies.

“Production has fallen by about 600,000 barrels a day,” Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Aoun said in an interview with AFP at his office in Tripoli during the early days of the oil blockade.

At the time, Aoun estimated that the blockade was costing the Libyan economy $60 million per day.

Libya’s reduced output also comes as global oil prices remain under pressure since Russia, an OPEC+ producer, invaded Ukraine in February.

Libya has been mired in conflict for long stretches since longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, with rival factions often fighting for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.

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