Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 February 2020

Libya: National Oil Corporation was not consulted on Turkey natural gas deal

Libya’s Government of National Accord in Tripoli agreed to deal with Ankara in 2019 for access to offshore natural gas resources

Libya's state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation, said it was attacked by armed robbers. Reuters
Libya's state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation, said it was attacked by armed robbers. Reuters

Libya’s National Oil Corporation was not consulted before a deal between the country’s Government of National Accord and Turkey over access to areas potentially rich in natural gas.

In early December last year, the GNA and Turkey confirmed a new maritime border deal in the Mediterranean in exchange for military co-operation.

Reports later emerged of thousands of Syrian fighters being sent to Libya through Turkey to bolster the security of the GNA in Tripoli.

Libya’s dominant state oil company, which has tried to remain independent throughout the country’s civil war, was not involved in the deal between Ankara and Tripoli.

But the company intends to play a central role in the development of offshore gas within the country’s maritime borders.

The December deal, which would dramatically expand Turkish influence in the region, has been deeply criticised by Libya’s neighbours in the Mediterranean.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias dismissed it as “ridiculous”, while Egypt called it illegal.

This month in Cairo, Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece condemned the maritime and security agreements while affirming there could be no military solution to the conflict in Libya.

The potential foothold gained by Ankara in Libya would infringe on plans by Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and Israel to turn the East Mediterranean into an energy centre after the discovery of massive reserves of natural gas.

But the picture for Libya’s oil industry is bleak. After blockades on oilfields in the south of the country, production has fallen to 262,000 barrels per day.

Plans to dramatically expand Libya’s production to 1.5 million barrels per day by the end of the year and 2.5 million by 2024 now look most unlikely.

Chances of recovery for the Libyan oil sector and the country may lie in upholding the rule of law and for global superpowers to build on last week’s peace conference in Berlin.

At the close of the one-day conference in Germany, world powers agreed to enforce the 2011 UN weapons embargo in Libya.

The country’s rival leaders, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and GNA Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj, also agreed to send representatives to a military council that would negotiate a ceasefire to end fighting in Tripoli.

Updated: January 28, 2020 12:58 AM

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