In Libya, the ongoing battle of the oil

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Au terminal pétrolier de Zouétina, dans l’est de la Libye, le 14 septembre 2016.
In Zouétina oil terminal in eastern Libya, on 14 September 2016.
         Credits: ABDULLAH DOMA / AFP
    

Libyan oil, the war in the war. The recent conquest by General Khalifa Haftar the “oil crescent” has once again highlighted the central role of the battle of oil in heartbreak experienced by Libya .

By removing, September 13, this strategic arc terminals on the coast of Cyrenaica (east), export platform through which passes around 60% of Libyan crude, the chief title of Army Libyan national (ANL) grabs a valuable asset in its rivalry with the Government of faiez Sarraj, based in Tripoli and supported by the West and the United Nations. It is now master of the possible reconstruction of the main pillar of the national economy.

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                In Libya, the General Haftar grabs the “oil crescent”
    

oil giant under the old regime of Gaddafi, Libya delivered to militia and segmented into rival fiefdoms, is now financially bled dry. She continues nonetheless to stir bitter envy in the prospect of a future settlement policy .

  • A supertanker knees

Libya’s rich oil reserves estimated at 48 billion barrels, which ranks first in Africa (before the Nigeria ) and ninth in the world. It also contains large deposits of natural gas: 1 600 billion cubic meters, it is the fifth-ranking African

.

Les enjeux pétroliers et gaziers en Libye.
The oil and gas issues in Libya.
         Credits: Computer Graphics World
    

Under a system set up under the Gaddafi regime, multinationals are present – or were – in the form of Company s mixed with mounted the state-owned National Oil company (NOC), an essential partner. The eight most committed foreign firms in the production of oil and gas are: Eni ( Italy ), Total ( France ), Wintershall ( Germany ) Gazprom ( Russia ), OMV ( Austria ), Repsol ( Spain ), Occidental Petroleum (US) and Statoil ( Norway ).

In 2010, Libya was producing 1.65 million barrels of oil per day, accounting for 96% of government revenues and 65% of GDP. The Europe alone absorbs 84% ​​of the exported Libyan crude, Asia and Oceania 14% and Americas 2%. Among the major European buyers stand the Ireland Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France.

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Italy is the European country most physically involved in Libyan oil company Eni with her. Among other interests, the latter operates the underwater pipeline, dubbed Greenstream hence the Mellitah gas complex, located between cities Zouara and Sabratha in Libya’s west, to Sicily. The pipeline is fed by the offshore Bahr Essalam site and by fields of Bouri and Wafa in the Ghadames basin, located 530 km south of the coast, not far from the Algerian border.

Following the post-revolution chaos, oil production decreased dramatically, currently oscillating between 200 000 and 300 000 barrels per day, or between 12% and 18% of the level of 2010. The gas was more spared with a production volume in 2014 70% of the level of 2010. a victim of its addiction with regard to oil revenues, Libya is on the brink of financial collapse.

  • Cyrenaica advantaged

The geopolitics Libyan hydrocarbons gives a strategic advantage to the east. The card deposits is indeed very largely dominated by the Sirte basin ( center -is) which contains 85% of oil reserves and 70% gas. The rest is up to Ghadames basin and murzuk (southwest) and the Pelagian Basin offshore northwest.

Reflecting this supremacy, five of six Libyan terminals are located in the East four fall under the “oil crescent” (Sidra Ras Lanuf, Brega and Zouétina) and the last is located in Tobruk, near the Egyptian border . In total, 64% of the exported Libyan crude is loaded into the terminals of the East. In addition, four of the five refineries are located in Cyrenaica. The ascendancy of eastern Libya is overwhelming.

  • Oil hostage conflict

Infrastructure ((terminals, olédoducs, pipelines and wells) are largely paralyzed part – with the exception of the basin Pelagian offshore in the northwest. – because the multitude of conflicts that erupted after the fall of Gaddafi groups arm és took hostage facilities in order to impose a political power struggle . -militaire the motivations are generally of two types: get money from the state and promote strategic interests

.

The most famous episode – and most costly to the national economy – these infrastructure bottlenecks is that which occurred in the summer of 2013 in the “oil growing” at the initiative of the guard oil installations (Petroleum Facilities Guards). This national body is fragmented after 2011 by local militias. In the “crescent”, the branch headed by Ibrahim Jadhran, derived from the powerful local tribe Magharba, immobilized Sidra terminals, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Zouétina to protest against embezzlement of Tripoli, amid regionalist resentment.

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Cyrenaica has indeed always complaint of see its hydrocarbon resources, the largest in the country, diverted by the central government. Jadhran capitalized on this collective frustration – he even created a “federalist” movement – although his motives are actually more disorders. When civil war broke out in the summer of 2014, it is allied to Tobruk camp, including General Haftar is the military leader. But relations with the latter deteriorated. A from the emergence in March in Tripoli government faiez Sarraj supported by the United Nations, Jadhran allegiance to the new authority that does not recognize Haftar. But instead of raise immediately its blockade of the “oil growing” to viable economically the power to Sarraj, negotiates its reopening in exchange for ” financial compensation ‘to the chagrin of the National Oil Company.

Other occupations took place. In November 2014, Tuareg groups in the southern Fezzan region seized the Sharara field in the murzuk basin (southwest), which was previously in the hands of groups of rival ethnic Toubou since 2012. In retaliation , militias from Zintan, a city in the Nafusa Mountains (western end) and Allied Toubou, blocked near their city the pipeline linking the murzuk basin in Zawiya terminal, west of Tripoli. In May 2015, the Toubou groups have seized in turn the well of al-Fil in murzuk basin. Actions that have paralyzed production and export of crude.

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The growth of the organization Islamic State (EI) over 2015 was added to the chaos. If EI has established a territorial sanctuary in Sirte, geopolitical mitan at the juncture of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, the jihadist organization has never sought to finance his Libyan emirate from petroleum, as it did in Iraq and Syria . The maritime border of the Mediterranean patrolled number of hostile navies, allowed no export by sea. Also, while IE might have try to seize the “oil crescent” from his neighbor bastion of Sirte, no offense of this type has she ever been outlined. However, tanks destroying actions of the “crescent” (terminal of Ras Lanuf and Sidra) were conducted at the beginning of the year. They echoed similar raids a year earlier on the fields of the Sirte basin (Mabrouk, Dahra and Ghani). A commercial operation for its own purposes, the EI preferred the policy scorched earth to prevent that oil fuels the Libyan government and its foreign partners. The strategy was clearly stated in the September 2015 his review Dabiq “Control of this region Daech [acronyme arabe de l’EI] lead to economic collapse, especially for Italy and other European states. “ The military ouster during the EI of his stronghold of Sirte, besieged by the brigades of Misrata has temporarily removed the danger.

  • official agencies War between East and West

The international community has always intervened for the National Oil Company, the Libyan sovereign fund Investment Authority and the Central Bank are spared. But maintaining the integrity of these institutions was more difficult as deepened since the summer of 2014, the gap between West and East. So the camp of Tobruk has he established his own NOC recital than sitting in Tripoli was under influence of Islamists dominating the government of Libya Fajr ( “Dawn of Libya”). The Central Bank, too, was duplicated, a new institution from east challenge old Tripoli. This duplication was inevitable from the moment the perception of revenue exported oil passes prior to an account of the Central Bank before the income is partially reallocated to the NOC. The initiative of Tobruk has, however, received a mixed reception from Western buyers, who were inclined to do recognize that the NOC in Tripoli, as well as advising them of their capital.

Un portrait du général Haftar en 2015 à Banghazi.
A portrait of General Haftar in 2015 to Banghazi.
         Credits: Esam Al-Fetori / REUTERS
    

The emergence in March in Tripoli government Sarraj, substituting in Tripolitania to the former government of Fajr Libya has not ended the duality. The Tobruk camp, which does not recognize the authority of Sarraj, has maintained parallel institutions to the east while the West and the UN continue to do hold for the only legitimate NOC in Tripoli . merger attempts have so far failed. Such bipolarity hampers the recovery of industry Oil in the flange that crude exports from the east, the richest oil region of the country.

  • The “oil crescent” between Haftar and Sarraj

The conquest of “oil growing” by the forces of General Haftar has at once clouded prospects of reunification between West and East and cleared the Libyan oil horizon in the short term. In the eyes of the NOC in Tripoli, General Haftar is indeed better able to raise activity “crescent” that has never been Jadhran Ibrahim, denounced as a blackmailer. For proof, an oil tanker flying the Maltese flag left, Wednesday, September 21, the Ras Lanuf terminal loaded 700 000 barrels, a first since 2014.

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The big question, however, know which camp will go ultimately revenue from this recovery. In principle, it was done under the auspices of the NOC in Tripoli that the international community holds for under the tutelage of the government of “national unity” of Sarraj. But the land is occupied by Haftar, which feeds many uncertainties. The day after his conquest of “oil increasing,” the UN and Western capitals have also made many statements warning that the protection of oil facilities came under the authority of Mr. Sarraj. They also recalled that the 2259 resolution of the United Nations Security Council prohibited the “illicit oil exports” . In other words, any attempt of General Haftar to export oil without the knowledge of the authority would be required to Sarraj “illegal” . Haftar will he bow to the injunction? Let there AcG Tripoli operate in favor of his rival Sarraj while his own side of Tobruk has set up a competing NOC? Accept there to see oil money Sarraj a viable government he contests the legitimacy? The answer to these questions will determine the situation in Libya in the coming months.

            

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