Libya’s Tripoli-based government, the Government of National Unity (GNU), said on Monday it had lifted the force majeure for oil and gas explorations and invited international oil companies that have contracts with the state-oil company (NOC) to resume their work in the country.
NOC also called in a statement on the companies to resume their work and assured them of its readiness to provide all necessary support, as oil production has been repeatedly hit in Libya – an OPEC member – by groups blockading facilities, sometimes to demand material benefits but also as a tactic to achieve wider political ends.
NOC said it would help the companies’ return and provide a safe working environment “in cooperation with the civil and military authorities in Libya”.
During the last major bout of conflict, groups affiliated with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar cut nearly all of Libya’s oil output for eight months.
“This call comes within the corporation’s efforts to lift force majeure after an objective follow-up and evaluation based on a realistic and logical analysis of the security situation, which has begun to improve dramatically,” NOC said.
It added that the improvement of the security situation has led to “the commencement of excavation work in sites where it was difficult to work in the recent past, in which there are now many global service companies.”
NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in November that oil output had risen to 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from 600,000 bpd three months ago and that NOC does not expect any disruption in oil production.
The last major blockade, also by groups aligned with Haftar, cut Libyan oil output by about half and ended when the government in the western city of Tripoli appointed Bengdara as the head of NOC in July.
The government led by Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah had signed a preliminary deal on energy exploration with Turkey in October, which Libya’s eastern-based parliament, that backs an alternative administration, rejects.