A resolution to the crisis that has crippled Libya's oil sector, pushing
its production down to just 250,000 b/d, could be close after prime minister
Ali Zeidan at the weekend threatened unspecified action within 10 days against
protesters that have blockaded key oil infrastructure across the country since
Zeidan, at a briefing in Tripoli, also said that the protesters should
act now to end the standoff or face the possibility of foreign powers
His comments come as factions in eastern Libya also said they had created
a new oil marketing company in a bid to restart crude exports from that part
of the North African country.
Zeidan has previously ruled out force to end the blockades at the eastern
oil export terminals of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina, and at large oil
fields across the country.
"We give groups a week to 10 days and then the government will exercise
its function," Zeidan said, according to a transcript posted on his website.
"We will not announce [the action], but you will know when it is
implemented," he said.
"We will not accept people holding the oil fields in this manner, and we
will act appropriately," Zeidan said.
He also called on ordinary people to rise up against the protesters.
"People should go out on the streets and call for the oil fields to be
opened," he said.
Libyan authorities have said that the country is losing some $130 million
each day in revenues from the oil sector crisis.
"The budget is based on full-year oil revenues," Zeidan said. "In the
next months we could have difficulty covering our spending. Because of the oil
disruption we may find ourselves in deficit."
The Libyan prime minister's deadline for action follows two different
groups forming independent governments for the Cyrenaica region in eastern
Ibrahim al-Jathran, head of the Petroleum Defense Guards and the
instigator of the blockades at the Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina oil
terminals, formed the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica (PBC), while another group
created the Cyrenaica Transitional Council.
The PBC at the weekend said it had formed a new entity to market crude
independently of state-owned NOC.
The new company will reportedly look to sell oil out of Tobruk near the
Marsa al-Hargia terminal.
There had been hope of a breakthrough in the east in late October when
NOC lifted force majeure on crude exports from Marsa el-Hariga after the
security situation at the port improved.
NOC declared force majeure on loadings out of Marsa el-Hariga on
September 12, saying the port had been unable to carry out crude loadings
because of circumstances beyond its control.
However, there have been reports that vessels have been unable to load at
--Stuart Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Maurice Geller, email@example.com