Washington Examiner – by Christopher Hutton
U.N. and U.S. officials have called for an end to the blockade of two major Libyan oil fields.
The call arrives as oil prices rise and several countries seek alternatives to Russian oil.
“Blocking oil production deprives all Libyans from their major source of revenue,” said Stephanie Williams, the U.N. special adviser on Libya, in a statement. “The oil blockade should be lifted.”
Richard Norland, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, echoed Williams’s remarks, arguing for an end to the shutdown.
Oil production in Libya has significantly dropped since the two fields were shut down over local conflicts. The state-run National Oil Corporation told Reuters that the closures cost Libya $160 million a day in revenue and have diminished the country’s oil output by 330,000 barrels.
The state-run oil company is encouraging local prosecutors “to take deterrent measures” and reveal “the planners, executors and the beneficiaries” of the militia operatives who shut down several fields among the internal political conflicts within Libya. A Libyan militia has disrupted oil production in the past, according to NOC head Mustafa Sanalla.
Libya has the ninth-largest known oil reserves worldwide and the largest oil reserves in Africa.
Oil prices have surged significantly as of Monday, reaching a peak of $130 a barrel for a short period. The last time oil prices surged like that was in 2008, amid the delayed talks with Iran.