June 28, 2018 / 5:16 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 3-Officials at Libya's Zueitina oil port stop NOC Tripoli tanker docking -sources

* Control of ports handed to Benghazi-based NOC

* Ports give authorities in charge control of oil exports

* EU says will not allow oil trade outside recognised channels (Adds loading blocked at Hariga)

By Ayman al-Warfalli

BENGHAZI, Libya, June 28 (Reuters) - Officials at Libya’s Zueitina oil port have not authorised a tanker contracted by Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) to berth, while loading was also blocked at Hariga terminal, port and industry sources said on Thursday.

Zueitina and Hariga are among the oil ports that the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Monday it would transfer to a parallel NOC, which is based in the eastern city of Benghazi, after fighting this month at the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals.

The ports are vital to controlling crude exports, the North African nation’s main source of revenue, although shifting who controls the terminals creates uncertainty for international buyers of oil and may cause a suspension of exports.

Operations at Zueitina, Hariga and Brega, which is also under the control of eastern forces, had appeared to be running normally until Thursday.

One tanker, the Felicity, finished loading 1 million barrels at Zueitina on Thursday under contract from NOC Tripoli.

But a second tanker, Amore Mio II, was waiting in the port area without permission to berth, sources said. A tanker had entered Hariga but had not completed loading because of a lack of authorisation, said an official from the Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO), which runs the terminal.

The official said production at Messla and Sarir fields would have to be reduced if loading remained blocked.

The head of the parallel NOC, Faraj Said, told Reuters he had ordered ports to prevent the entry of any tanker not authorised by his office.

Combined exports from the five ports, which are now under LNA control, were about 780,000 bpd in May and 500,000-550,000 bpd for June 1-27, according to analytics firm Vortexa.

Ras Lanuf and Es Sider have been closed since June 14, when opponents of the LNA attacked the ports before being driven out a week later.

The parallel NOC in Benghazi has previously tried and failed to market oil independently of NOC in Tripoli, which is recognised by U.N. Security Council resolutions as the only legitimate producer and seller of Libyan oil.

The European Union said on Thursday it would “continue to counter any attempt to trade Libyan oil outside the internationally recognised official channels”.

The United States, France, Britain and Italy made a similar statement on Wednesday.

Eastern factions say they moved to take control of oil exports because revenues going to the central bank in Tripoli were being used to fund militias that attacked the LNA, and that not enough cash was reaching the east.

They have said they will try to sell oil through NOC in Benghazi with proceeds going to a parallel central bank based in the east.

The NOC in Tripoli made a new appeal on Thursday for the LNA to hand back operational control of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.

“NOC reminds its stakeholders it has repeatedly called for transparency over the distribution of oil revenues,” it said. (Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis and Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by Edmund Blair and Grant McCool)

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