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Energy

Libya's NOC says lifting force majeure is tied to demilitarising oil facilities

FILE PHOTO: Mustafa Sanalla, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) chief speaks to the media before the OPEC 14th Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali

CAIRO (Reuters) - The chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Friday that lifting the force majeure restrictions that have halted oil exports from the war-torn country depends on demilitarising all oil facilities.

In place since the start of the year, force majeure was briefly lifted in July before being reimposed.

Mustafa Sanallah’s comment, published on NOC’s website, comes after Turkey and Russia - the main power brokers in Libya’s war - appeared to moved closer in meetings in Ankara this week to an agreement on a ceasefire and political bargaining process.

“In light of the current chaos and non-organised negotiations, force majeure can’t be lifted,” Sanallah said in a statement.

Ankara and Moscow back opposing sides. Russia supports the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey backs Libya’s internationall recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Sanallah said separate negotiations carried out by NOC in coordination with the head of the presidential council and the international community include an initiative that include safe operation of oil fields and ports, and pushing all “foreign mercenaries” out of them.

The NOC chairman expressed regret over what he called the “politicising of the oil sector” and use of it as a “bargaining chip” to achieve political gains.

Libya’s oil output has already been almost entirely halted this year by a blockade on exports since January by the LNA.

Reporting by Hani Amara; Writing by Samar Hassan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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