Oil exports were halted in January by eastern forces, cutting off Libya’s main source of revenue [File: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said Russian and other foreign mercenaries entered the Sharara oilfield, adding it completely rejects “attempts by foreign countries to prevent the resumption of oil production”.
On Friday, the NOC said the mercenaries entered Sharara in a convoy of vehicles and met with representatives of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), a force established to maintain security at the oilfields.
Libya has been effectively divided since 2015 between areas held by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival administration in Benghazi.
Oilfields and export facilities are mostly located in the territory controlled by the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
An international agreement says that oil can only be exported by the Tripoli-based NOC, with payments going to the Central Bank of Libya there.
The LNA, backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, suddenly lost this month much of its territory around Tripoli and the northwest to the GNA, backed by Turkey.
Oil exports were halted in January by eastern forces, cutting off Libya’s main source of revenue. After the GNA made gains this month, the NOC attempted to restart production at Sharara and El Feel Field.
In a statement, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla, said: “Some [countries] cynically express their public regret for Libya’s continued inability to produce oil while all the time working in the background to support blockading forces.”
The front lines in Libya have stabilised over the past two weeks west of Sirte, a central coastal city that is the closest to the main oil export terminals.
Reuters news agency
Cyprus accuses Turkey of expanding ‘illegal drilling’ in East Med |NationalTribune.com
Cyprus has accused Turkey of extending “illegal drilling” in disputed Mediterranean waters but said it is ready to engage in dialogue with Ankara to resolve differences over exploration rights. On Tuesday, Turkey extended the operations of its Yavuz energy drill ship in the disputed area off Cyprus until October 12, in a move that could stir tension…
Cyprus has accused Turkey of extending “illegal drilling” in disputed Mediterranean waters but said it is ready to engage in dialogue with Ankara to resolve differences over exploration rights.
On Tuesday, Turkey extended the operations of its Yavuz energy drill ship in the disputed area off Cyprus until October 12, in a move that could stir tension between the island’s Greek Cypriot government and Ankara.
“Yesterday, unfortunately a Turkish NAVTEX to expand illegal drilling by the Yavuz vessel was extended when at the same time, a series of initiatives are ongoing that seek an end to Ankara’s unlawful actions and de-escalation,” President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday, after a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Nicosia.
Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships, according to a Turkish maritime notice that added “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area, Turkish broadcaster TRT reported.
Anastasiades’s comments come a week ahead of a special summit of European Union leaders on September 24-25 to discuss how to resolve the crisis between Cyprus and Turkey.
Anastasiades said Turkey was continuing its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding Cyprus would enter dialogue – but not under threats.
Meanwhile, the European Commission’s president on Wednesday warned Turkey against trying to intimidate Greece and Cyprus.
In her annual State of the EU speech, Ursula von der Leyen said Ankara was a key partner doing important work hosting refugees but stressed “none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours”.
Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been locked in a dispute over energy resources and maritime borders in the region, with Ankara infuriating the EU countries by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters.
There have been fears of conflict erupting and Cyprus is pressing the rest of the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Ankara over the drilling, a move Turkey has decried as lacking legal basis.
“Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour, but while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing,” Von der Leyen told the European Parliament.
“Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighbourhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.”
Greece and Cyprus can count on Europe’s “full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights”, she added.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called for European “solidarity” on the issue and a renewed migrant crisis.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said his country has been proposing to restart exploratory talks with Greece.
“Exploratory talks actually cover all disputed issues between Turkey and Greece … The previous government [in Greece] … didn’t want to actually restart. And this government also has not been willing to restart the exploratory talks, so we have to make an agreement,” he said.
Matt Gaetz accuses Liz Cheney of working against Donald Trump, calls for her to step down
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on Tuesday accused House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney of trying to undermine President Trump and called for her to step down from GOP leadership. Liz Cheney has worked behind the scenes (and now in public) against @realDonaldTrump and his agenda.House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair. Liz Cheney…
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on Tuesday accused House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney of trying to undermine President Trump and called for her to step down from GOP leadership.
Liz Cheney has worked behind the scenes (and now in public) against @realDonaldTrump and his agenda.House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair. Liz Cheney should step down or be removed. #MAGA
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) July 21, 2020
Ms. Cheney, Wyoming Republican, has had several public breaks with Mr. Trump over her tenure as the third highest-ranking House Republican.
During the course of the coronavirus pandemic, she’s countered his messaging on masks and lockdown policies in the country and increasingly questioned his foreign policy decisions, particularly regarding reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers.
But she’s also been in the president’s corner on issues such as impeachment, and votes in line with his agenda nearly 97% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., chimed in on Twitter comparing Ms. Cheney to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — who often clashes with the president.
We already have one Mitt Romney, we don’t need another… we also don’t need the endless wars she advocates for. https://t.co/RDkJDA9UOZ
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 21, 2020
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Libya’s NOC accuses UAE of being behind oil blockade |NationalTribune.com
Since January, groups loyal to Haftar have been blocking the production and export of oil from the country’s most important fields and terminals [Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters] Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) has accused the United Arab Emirates of instructing eastern forces in Libya’s civil war to reimpose a blockade of oil exports after the departure…
Since January, groups loyal to Haftar have been blocking the production and export of oil from the country’s most important fields and terminals [Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters]
Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) has accused the United Arab Emirates of instructing eastern forces in Libya’s civil war to reimpose a blockade of oil exports after the departure of the first tanker in six months.
The UAE, along with Russia and Egypt, supports the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, which on Saturday said the blockade would continue despite it having let a tanker loaded with oil from storage.
Libya, which sits atop Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, is torn between the rival powers of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and eastern-based Haftar.
“NOC has been informed that the instructions to shut down production were given to (the LNA) by the United Arab Emirates,” it said in a statement on Sunday, resuming force majeure on all oil exports.
There was no immediate comment on NOC’s accusation from either the LNA or the UAE.
Haftar has been on the back foot after Turkish support helped the GNA turn back his 14-month assault on the capital, Tripoli.
Libyan government gathers war crimes evidence against Haftar
After the GNA gained ground, NOC also tried to restart production at the Sharara oil field, but said this effort was quickly shut down and accused Russian mercenaries fighting alongside the LNA of deploying there.
On Friday the Vitol tanker Kriti Bastion docked and loaded at Es Sider port before sailing on Saturday, the first legal export of Libyan oil since the blockade was imposed in January.
The NOC said Russian and Syrian mercenaries fighting alongside the LNA now occupied Es Sider.
Under international agreements, only NOC can produce and export oil and revenues must flow into the Central Bank of Libya. Both those institutions are based in Tripoli, the seat of the GNA.
The LNA said on Saturday it would continue the blockade until a list of conditions were met, including channelling oil revenue into a new bank account based outside the country to then be distributed regionally.
On Sunday the United States’s Libya embassy said the resumption of the blockade came after “days of intense diplomatic activity” to let NOC resume output, and said it “regrets that foreign-backed efforts” had impeded this.
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