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Libya: Libya’s National Oil Corporation calls for withdrawal of foreign mercenaries

Last week Libya’s National Oil Corporation made a statement and expressed its deep concern over deterioration of the security situation in areas surrounding its oil facilities. It called for the immediate eviction of foreign mercenaries from oil facilities in the country.

In its statement, the National Oil Corporation criticized the presence of Russia’s Wagner Group and Syrian and Janjaweed mercenaries in Libyan oil installations.

Oil Corporation stressed the need of their immediate withdrawal from all facilities. It made an appeal to the United Nations Mission in Libya to send observers in order to supervise the demilitarisation in the areas where NOC operates across the country, pointing out there are lots of foreign mercenaries in NOC facilities who do not share this view. NOC also expressed its concern over the safety of the 65,000 staff working for company across Libya. Earlier in one of his interview NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla stated that Libya’s oil facilities had been at the heart of the conflict, with different groups repeatedly closing them. The shutdowns and lack of maintenance have resulted in damage of fields and wells. Repairs will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take months even if fighting stops soon.

Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production, low sulfur content, being classified as “sweet crude” and in its proximity to European markets. Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa while its oil production can reach 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. However, it has fallen below 100,000 barrels a day because of suspensions as a result of pro-Haftar forces and mercenaries activities over the last period.

А warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias have conducted attacks on Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya. The escalation of hostilities has resulted in increase in civilian casualties.

The forces of Libya’s United Nations-recognised government have recently made significant gains pushing Haftar’s forces out of Tripoli and the city of Tarhuna (65 kilometres to the southeast of Tripoli).

It was in 2015 that the country’s government was founded under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by the warlord Khalifa Haftar, supported by the UAE, and Egypt and a private military company Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organisation seen as being close to Vladimir Putin. The Wagner Group is considered a shadowy private security firm and thousands of its contractors are believed to be in different foreign conflicts from Syria to Ukraine to the Central African Republic.

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