Cairo ( Associated Press) – Tribal leaders in southern Libya closed the county’s largest oil field, officials said on Monday, the latest closure of an oil facility amid a bitter standoff between two rival governments.
Oil production at the Sharara field has been halted and state-run National Oil Corp announced a windfall at the field, which produces about 450,000 barrels a day. Force Majeure is a legal maneuver that enables a company to exit its contractual obligations due to exceptional circumstances.
The corporation called the shutdown of the area an “absurd move” reflecting the ongoing standoff in the country. The closure will likely create a fuel crisis in the oil-rich country, as the region is one of the main sources of domestic fuel.
The corporation did not name those behind the shutdown, but its announcement came hours after tribal leaders closed the ground in protest in the desert town of Ubari, about 950 kilometers (590 mi) south of the capital Tripoli. Against the government of crisis-stricken Prime Minister Abdul Hameed Dabeba.
He called on Tripoli-based Dbeba to hand over power to the government of Prime Minister Fathi Bashaga, who was appointed by parliament to lead a transitional administration in February after Libya failed to hold its first presidential election in December.
Local media also reported that residents of the southeastern district of Whata announced the closure of all oil facilities in their area, as well as pressured Dabeba to withdraw.
Over the weekend, tribal leaders and protesters closed al-Feel Field and Zuitina Terminal On the Gulf of Sirte, the National Oil Corporation was forced to declare a force majeure event at two facilities.
Along with crude oil production, the NOC said the shutdown would lead to a shortage of cooking gas and electricity supply in the eastern sector, which is controlled by the forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter.
National Oil Corporation President Mustafa Sanallah said they were forced to stop production at all areas and stations connected to the terminal and shipping facilities until further notice.
He urged the Libyan people to push for the reopening of oil facilities to “benefit from the current price surge”.
The shutdown came as Brent crude, the international pricing standard, was trading at $106.97 a barrel on Monday as Russia’s war on Ukraine rocked global markets and pushed up oil prices. Before the shutdown, Libya’s output stood at 1.2 billion barrels per day.
Libya’s prized light crude has long been involved in the North African country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers battling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
The oil-rich North African country has been ravaged by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that killed longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The country has for years been divided between rival administrations to the east and west, each backed by various militias and foreign governments.