Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar said oil ports closed since January can reopen, although it wasn’t clear if crude production would be allowed to resume.
The ports can restart operations to dispose of stored fuel and gas to resolve electricity shortages in eastern Libya, Naji al-Maghrabi, head of an oil-facilities guard linked to Haftar’s Libyan National Army, said late Tuesday in a televised statement.
The state-runNational Oil Corp. wasn’t immediately available for comment. Al-Maghrabi’s statement didn’t mention any restarting of production from oil fields.
The orders came after Haftar met with representatives from the NOC and Arabian Gulf Oil Co. and seek to “ease the suffering of citizens in all walks of life, to safeguard the infrastructure at production and export sites and maintain the existing oil facilities,” al-Maghrabi said.
The NOC last week warned of worsening blackouts in Libya’s east, the seat of Haftar’s power, where a seven-month blockade of oil and gas facilities has deprived electricity stations of fuel and caused power cuts that can last as long as 12 hours.
Libya, which holds Africa’s largest crude reserves, produced around 1.2 million barrels a day last year. That figure plummeted to about 90,000 daily barrels after supporters of Haftar, who’s been fighting to unseat theUnited Nations-backed government in Tripoli in western Libya, halted operations at fields and ports under his control at the start of the year.
Haftar’s forces last month reiterated the closures will end only when there’s agreement to distribute oil revenues in a way they consider fairer. The blockade has cost the North African nation at least $8 billion.
Libya split into rival factions and governments in the wake of the 2011 conflict that overthrew Muammar al-Qaddafi. TheOPEC member’s oil facilities have been at the heart of the disputes, with groups forcing closures to press political or economic demands.
Read: Revival of Libya’s War-Torn Oil Industry to Be Slow and Costly
— With assistance by Zaid Sabah
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