By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 February 2019:
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced late today that its chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, met with Presidency Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) head, Faiez Sarraj, and “representatives of the international community in Abu Dhabi today at their request to discuss measures necessary to lift the force majeure at the Sharara oil field. All parties expressed a desire to swiftly resolve the crisis and restart production as soon as possible”.
The NOC chairman reiterated his desire to resume production, and that force majeure will be lifted when all members of the ‘Civilian’ armed militia are removed from the field, the NOC statement said.
The stress on “civilian” by the NOC is a clear indication by it that it’s force majeure is still in place not because of the presence of Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
This responds to all the media speculation that Sanalla was not prepared to reopen Sharara under the control of LNA General control of the area.
Sanalla stressed NOC’s zero-tolerance policy towards extortion and insisted that all measures to resolve the crisis take place within the framework of national and international law.
The NOC statement said that “despite all concerned parties not being present at the meeting, NOC is seeking assurances from the General Command of the Libyan National Army that all outstanding arrest warrants will be served – and that wanted parties will be removed from the field”.
The statement recognizes the de facto control of the LNA as well as a clear recognition and working relationship with it. It appeals to the LNA to act as policeman by enforcing the law and existing arrest warrants issued.
According to Sanalla: “Previously announced security guarantees and arrangements at the site must be implemented to prevent further acts of aggression and violence against Libya’s oil sector workers. Under no circumstances will (there) be future threats to staff be tolerated.”
Clearly from this later statement by the NOC, the lifting of the Sharara force majeure had been announced prematurely by many Libyan news outlets earlier today.
This was sparked by the NOC’s morning announcement that Sanalla “had arrived in UAE to meet with a number of Libyan and international parties to discuss security measures necessary to find a solution to the Sharara crisis, that guarantee staff safety, and pave way for the lifting of force majeure at the field”.
The statement was also accompanied by speculation that Hafter was supposed to meet Serraj at the meeting.
It is still unclear if Hafter did indeed secretly attend the meeting, or if he was supposed to attend it and then changed his mind.
If Hafter was never scheduled to attend, then it must be asked why did Sanalla have to fly to Abu Dhabi to meet Serraj?