Libya’s oil output dropped below 400,000 barrels a day after the divided country’s internationally recognized government in the east closed a port run by a rival administration in the west, in a push to assert control over more energy assets and exports.
Production fell after crude exports halted at the port of Zueitina, Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for the National Oil Corp.’s management in the western city of Tripoli, said Wednesday by phone. Libya pumped 430,000 barrels a day in October, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Zueitina will be closed until further notice, and tankers seeking to load crude there must now register with a rival NOC management loyal to the internationally recognized government based in eastern Libya, according to a Petroleum Guard spokesman Ali al-Hasy. Vessels registered with the NOC administration in Tripoli, seat of an Islamist-backed government, are “illegitimate” and won’t be permitted to load at Zueitina, he said.
“This is clearly an escalation” by the eastern government to make buyers deal directly with their NOC management rather than continue to work with the Tripoli authorities, and thus gain more control over oil revenue, Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., said by phone from London.
“The more interesting question is whether there’s a risk of the same action being repeated at the other terminals under the control of the eastern government,” he said, referring to the ports of Hariga and Brega.
ibya, with Africa’s largest oil reserves, pumped about 1.6 million barrels a day of crude before a 2011 rebellion ended Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule.