By Sami Zaptia.
London 25 January 2019:
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has suspended the supply of natural gas to the Libyan Norwegian Fertiliser Company (LifeCo) pending settlement of its unpaid debts.
The NOC said that it has attempted to resolve the issue through various consultations aimed at rooting out “corruption” and ensuring operational continuity at LifeCo plants.
It said that it has held a series of meetings with the management of the Norwegian foreign partner, Yara and LifeCo’s board of directors to discuss arrangements that ensure LifeCo’s partner assumes its financial responsibility towards collective debts.
These amount to: 210 million Libyan dinars and 31 million euros owed to Sirte Oil Co, and over 80 million USD owed to the NOC.
The NOC says that talks to negotiate a solution have not been successful as a result of “Yara’s refusal to assume repayment responsibility, expecting the NOC to solely finance LifeCo’s operations, while continuing to market its products internationally – resulting in an unequal relationship; profitable to Yara, but loss-making for NOC”.
The NOC, however, assured LifeCo employees that job protection remains its absolute priority, while it retains its right to hold financial defaulters, from any party, accountable.
The NOC said that it is currently exploring various solutions to the problem to ensure the continuity of the company and the resumption of business as soon as possible – thereby securing the future of staff, and transforming it into a profitable and transparent company serving the national economy.
It will be recalled that that LifeCo was formed in 2009 during the Qaddafi regime as a joint venture, with Yara holding 50% of the shares and both NOC and the Libyan Investment Authority each taking a 25% stake.
Yara has already been fined 48 million USD for bribery of government officials and seen a number of its staff, including Yara’s top legal advisor, found guilty of corruption and sentenced to imprisonment by a Norwegian court.
Investigations into these incidents of illegality, conducted by the Norwegian and Swiss authorities, are being examined in collaboration with the office of the Libyan public prosecutor.
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