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Iran Press TV

US calls for 'immediate' resumption of Libya oil production

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 21 January 2020 6:02 PM

The United States has called for the "immediate" resumption of Libya's vital oil exports, after rebel militia loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar shut off production at the North African country's major oil fields last week.

"The suspension of National Oil Corporation (NOC) operations risks exacerbating the humanitarian emergency in #Libya and inflicting further needless suffering on the Libyan people," the US Embassy in Tripoli tweeted.

"NOC operations should resume immediately," it said.

Industry experts, however, say Washington opposes the suspension of Libyan crude exports because of the impact on the world oil market.

Haftar's militia, at war with government forces, stopped the production at virtually all of the nation's oil fields on the eve of an international peace conference in the German capital, Berlin, on Sunday.

Global oil prices jumped to above 65 dollars a barrel on Monday as the Libyan disruptions coincided with the shutdown of some oil outputs in Iraq, reigniting fears about the market's vulnerability to geopolitical risks in key supply regions.

The NOC earlier confirmed that Libya's daily crude output of 1.3 million barrels a day would be virtually wiped out.

"The storage capacity of these ports is limited and the NOC will be obliged to put a complete halt to crude production once maximum capacity has been reached," the oil company said on Monday.

In recent years, oil-rich Libya has been divided between two rival camps: the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar's militia.

The rebels launched an offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, in April last year, but, despite intense fighting, they have so far failed to achieve their objective and the offensive has stalled outside the capital.

The Berlin conference was the latest of many diplomatic attempts aimed at pushing Libya on a path to peace.

Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled after a NATO military intervention.

His ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Takiri Daesh terrorist group.

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