x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Libyan government warns oil companies not to buy oil from militias

Government describes such dealings as 'blatant violation' of Libyan sovereignty and a crime punishable by law.

TRIPOLI // Libya’s government has warned oil companies not to buy from export terminals seized by militias in the east of the country.

Separately, the government said that it would cut financial support to militias who assist in providing security by the end of the year. The weak central government’s authority is challenged by armed groups, but it also relies on them to keep order.

In its strongly worded statement on the oil terminals, the government said on Wednesday that such dealings were a “blatant violation” of Libyan sovereignty and a “crime” punishable by law.

It said that it had a list of companies who it claimed were “trying” to buy oil and that they are under surveillance.

Air and naval forces were ordered to “confront any vessels (violating the order) with force, arrest and detention,” the statement said.

Different militias took over the terminals this summer. Some have aspirations for self-rule in the eastern region while others accuse the government of corruption in oil deals.

Since the seizures Libya’s oil production sharply declined from 1.4 million barrels a day to few hundred thousand barrels a day. The government has been negotiating with the militias and up until now has not used force against them.

The government said on Wednesday that it will stop paying militias by December 31 this year. It said it was time to start “integrating the revolutionaries (into the army and police) and dismantling the armed groups.”

* Associated Press