Libyan gov’t in Tripoli names new oil company head

TRIPOLI— Libya’s Government of National Unity appointed a new chairman for the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) despite the opposition of the former head.

“I thank the Government of National Unity for appointing a new board of directors,” Farhat Gdora, the new NOC chairman, told a press conference in the capital Tripoli.

“I would also like to stress that the board includes an elite group of diverse national experts in terms of competence, who will provide an integrated environment to lead this sector toward success,” he said.

Gdora stressed the need to support the Libyan oil sector, the country’s main source of income, and keep it away from political rivalry.

However, former NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla dismissed the Tripoli government’s decision as illegal and void because its mandate has “expired.”

Separately, NOC said it was resuming oil exports from two ports and hoping to restart output at closed fields, signalling a possible end to a blockade by eastern forces imposed as a tactic to drive Dbeibah from office.

Access to state oil revenue through NOC and the Central Bank of Libya has been the main prize for sparring factions since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that led to years of chaos and violence in the North African country.

In March, the eastern-based parliament appointed a new government under Fathi Bashagha to take over in Tripoli, but Dbeibah refused to step down.

Libya’s Oil Minister Mohamed Oun, who has feuded with Sanalla, said the NOC board changes were “an important step to preserve oil wealth”.Libya’s oil blockade has reduced output by 850,000 barrels per day (BPD) at a time of global supply constriction and reduced fuel supplies to power stations, adding to electricity cuts that have sparked protests across the country.

The leadership of NOC is not among the “sovereign positions” that require broad agreement among Libya’s rival political institutions to change.

However, with the parliament challenging the legitimacy of Dbeibah’s government, any move by him to change the NOC leadership could prompt opposition.

Libya has been suffering escalating violence and unrest ever since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. The country is currently divided between a government that was appointed by the House of Representatives in March, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity that refuses to hand over power until a new government is elected.


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