(Adds comment from breakaway NOC, Sanalla on Rosneft deal)
By Shadia Nasralla
VIENNA, April 6 The head of Libya's National Oil
Corp (NOC) defended the organisation on Thursday against
repeated challenges to its legitimacy, saying it was working for
all Libyans rather than any particular faction.
His comments to reporters in Vienna come as the
Tripoli-based corporation faces a slew of challenges from
various political and armed groups in Libya trying to lay claim
to the country's vast oil wealth.
"I think everybody in the country understood that NOC is
working for the whole nation and not one faction or illegitimate
faction," Mustafa Sanalla said, adding that the corporation was
the "glue" holding Libya together.
Last month, the head of an eastern breakaway NOC said he
could no longer comply with a unification deal agreed last year
with the original NOC in Tripoli.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the breakaway NOC in Benghazi
said it had held an emergency meeting a day earlier to discuss
the Tripoli NOC and "the transgression it carries out in
monopolising the sale of oil".
Sanalla said contracts with international oil companies were
protected by the United Nations. U.N. resolutions that remain in
place have foiled past attempts by eastern factions to sell oil
In another challenge, the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli
issued a decree in March to strip the NOC of some of its powers,
including the approval and cancellation of contracts.
Sanalla has asked the government to withdraw the resolution,
saying that only the House of Representatives, Libya's
legislature, has the power to make such changes.
The political tests come against a backdrop of security
threats by various militant and unarmed groups that have
hindered OPEC member Libya's oil production.
The most recent incident was a week-long shutdown of the
Sharara oilfield, Libya's largest, after an unknown group
blocked a pipeline linking it to the Zawiya oil terminal.
The field, which restarted on April 2, is now producing
215,000 barrels per day (bpd), Sanalla said.
Libya's national output stands at 693,000 bpd and further
increases at Sharara could help drive it to 800,000 bpd by the
end of April and to 1.1 million bpd by August, if security and
budgetary conditions allow, Sanalla said.
He also commented on a deal that the NOC signed with
Russia's Rosneft in February, which he said covered
future upstream and midstream cooperation as well as an oil
Sanalla said the pricing of oil exported from Libya by
Rosneft would be the same as for the NOC's other foreign
partners. "We sell oil with the same formula, the same prices,"
(Additional reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi, Libya;
Writing by Aidan Lewis and Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Dale Hudson
and David Clarke)