The pinnacle of Libya’s state oil firm mentioned he had the backing of each the federal government in Tripoli and the renegade normal Khalifa Haftar who controls the east of the nation, as he outlined plans to draw funding and enhance manufacturing.
A battle for management of oil revenues has been on the coronary heart of the battle within the north African nation over the previous decade. Armed teams allied to Haftar, who instructions the self-styled Libyan Nationwide Military, have often blockaded oilfields and export terminals as a part of efforts to exert strain on the federal government, chopping oil exports by a 3rd within the first half of 2022 to fewer than 800,000 barrels a day.
Farhat Bengdara, chair of the Libyan Nationwide Oil Company since July, mentioned he loved assist throughout the divided nation, which had allowed the Opec member to revive manufacturing to 1.2mn b/d.
“I can journey wherever in Libya — south, east, west, north, wherever — and I’ve been working with all events,” he mentioned in an interview. “That sort of assist is essential for NOC to proceed manufacturing and proceed enchancment.”
Bengdara mentioned his goal was to raise manufacturing to 2mn b/d over three to 5 years, as he pledged to assessment Libya’s fiscal regime to draw extra overseas funding.
The NOC chief, a former governor of Libya’s central financial institution, pointed to a $8bn deal signed in January with Italy’s Eni to develop an offshore gasfield as proof of progress. “You will notice extra of those massive initiatives in Libya,” he mentioned.
Deliberate modifications to the fiscal regime for oil and fuel investments would make Libya extra “engaging to worldwide traders”, he mentioned, with out offering additional particulars.
He additionally mentioned NOC was establishing a separate division to give attention to fuel manufacturing, with the goal of exporting extra to European nations looking for to switch provides from Russia. Libya provides about 8bn cubic meters of fuel to Europe yearly by a pipeline to Italy, sufficient to satisfy about 2 per cent of the continent’s demand.
The newest part in Libya’s decade-long civil battle erupted in 2019 after Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli to oust a weak UN-backed authorities. Prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, a rich businessman, was appointed by a UN-sponsored course of to organise elections in late 2021 however the vote was by no means held amid disputes over the foundations.
Bengdara was beforehand based mostly within the United Arab Emirates, the place he ran a financial institution collectively owned by the UAE, Libya and Algeria. His appointment at NOC was a part of a deal, mediated by the UAE, between Haftar and Dbeibeh, who now needs to carry on to energy, in accordance with analysts.
Mohamed Eljarh, head of the Libya Desk consulting agency, mentioned Bengdara was a “guarantor for no matter understanding was reached between the 2 sides”. As a part of that association, members of Haftar’s LNA now obtained common salaries from the Tripoli-based authorities in return for permitting the oil to movement, he added.
Bengdara was appointed following the ousting of long-serving chair Mustafa Sanalla, who final 12 months told the Financial Times that Dbeibeh didn’t have the authority to dismiss him and that “masked, armed males” had compelled their method into NOC headquarters to organize the handover.
Bengdara mentioned he had no information of the alleged raid or the phrases of any deal between Dbeibeh and Haftar. “I took workplace, in accordance with the federal government appointment, and I’m doing my job,” he mentioned.
Nevertheless, he additionally steered that his predecessor could have been too confrontational. “Sanalla’s persona was . . . confronting individuals, which created tensions with Haftar and with the federal government,” he mentioned. “The central financial institution was not supporting him as a result of he has issues with the central financial institution.”
Most diplomats credit score Sanalla with having saved NOC above the political fray. Sanalla couldn’t be reached for remark.
Extra reporting by Heba Saleh in Cairo