| TUNIS, March 26
TUNIS, March 26 Libya's National Oil Corporation
(NOC) said on Sunday that it had identified "illegal" efforts to
sell crude oil without its approval and warned potential buyers
not to enter into such contracts.
Factions based in eastern Libya have previously tried to
sell oil independently of NOC in Tripoli, but their moves have
been frustrated by U.N. resolutions that remain in place.
"NOC identified a group of individuals abusing the current
status of political division in Libya by entering into illegal
contracts with unknown or unqualified companies," NOC said in a
statement without providing detail on who was involved.
"These individuals, and others associated with them, have
offered Libyan crude oil for sale at huge discounts below the
official selling price (OSP)."
The statement added that this could cost the state of Libya
hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
The NOC reasserted in the statement that it was the only
body authorised by U.N. resolutions to export crude oil and oil
products from Libya, and that only the 16 international oil
companies that already hold contracts with NOC could buy oil or
charter tankers from Libyan ports.
It warned that entering into contracts with other buyers
could lead to "serious legal consequences and financial losses"
for those concerned.
The statement comes after eastern forces lost and regained
control of the key oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf this
month, angering eastern factions that accused their western
rivals of backing the temporary seizure of the ports.
Some eastern officials cast doubt on arrangements under
which oil produced in the east is sold by the Tripoli NOC with
revenues processed by the central bank in the capital.
However, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was confident
of regaining control over oil operations following the port
fighting and that operations at the terminals have already
Since 2014 Libya has been divided between factions based in
Tripoli and the east of the country, with rival governments,
financial institutions and armed forces competing for power. The
eastern government set up its own branch of the NOC in Benghazi
but has never gained control over oil operations.
Libya's oil production has more than doubled since last year
to about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) but remains well below
the 1.6 million bpd the OPEC member was exporting before a 2011
On Friday ambassadors for the five permanent members of the
U.N. Security Council reaffirmed their support for the Tripoli
NOC, saying it should retain "exclusive stewardship" of Libya's
"We call for all parties to exercise restraint, avoid
military solutions and resolve differences through political
processes," the statement said.
(Editing by David Goodman)