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Libyan rebels report accord ‘in principle’ to reopen oil ports

BY MAHER CHMAYTELLI

BREGA, Libya (Bloomberg) -- Rebels seeking self-rule for eastern Libya said a government delegation agreed “in principle” to three demands that would allow oil ports under the Barqa-region federalists’ control to reopen.

Confirmation of the tentative accord by the government would allow exports to resume within a month from four terminals which since July have been under the control of the self-declared Executive Office for Barqa, Ali Al-Hasy, a spokesman for the group, said by telephone. The government hasn’t confirmed that talks were held with the rebels.

“The delegation should return in a few days with a confirmation of the agreement by the government,” Al-Hasy said. Libya, which holds the largest oil reserves in Africa, has nine oil ports.

The rebels have called for the withdrawal of a military threat to drive the Barqa group out of the oil ports, an audit of crude-sales operations managed by the central authorities over the past three years and “an agreement on an oil-export mechanism,” said the spokesman, declining to give more details.

The government may be willing to accept an interim deal that would allow oil ports to reopen without rebels ceding control, Riccardo Fabiani, a Eurasia Group analyst, said.

Al-Sharif al-Wafi, a parliament member who previously conducted talks with the Barqa group on behalf of the government, said tribal leaders may be speaking to the rebels on behalf of the authorities.

Libya saw its crude output slump to about a sixth of its capacity last month amid protests over jobs, pay and political rights disrupt operations. The Barqa rebels, led by former Petroleum Facilities Guard commander Ibrahim Al-Jedran, are demanding a 15% share of national oil revenue for the eastern region.

Al-Hasy said Jedran attended the negotiations held in the eastern oil town of Brega.

Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumped about 250,000 bpd of crude last month, according to a Bloomberg survey of companies, producers and analysts.This compares with an installed capacity of 1.6 MMbpd before the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.

04/03/2014

 

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