Libya’s Oil in Focus as United Nations Hosts Conference in Cairo
The United Nations began holding a Cairo conference to discuss Libya’s economy, about three weeks after a blockade of ports sent the OPEC nation’s oil production tumbling to its lowest level since the 2011 civil war.
The two-day meeting is the latest in a series of international efforts to end the conflict between eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and the internationally recognized government in Tripoli that’s been the fiercest bout of fighting in the North African nation since longtime leader Moammar Qaddafi’s ouster almost nine years ago.
Distribution of oil revenues, long at the heart of the turmoil that has divided the country, is among the topics to be discussed in Cairo, according to a copy of the agenda obtained by Bloomberg.
Libya’s crisis escalated in mid-January, just before a peace conference in Berlin, with Haftar’s supporters forcing oil export terminals to close and prompting the state-run National Oil Corp. to declare force majeure on supplies. Production in Libya, which has Africa’s largest-proven reserves, has tumbled to about 180,000 barrels a day, the lowest level since the 2011 uprising against Qaddafi, from a daily 1.2 million barrels just before the blockade.
Haftar, whose Libyan National Army controls the oil-rich east and south of the country, in April launched an offensive to take the capital, Tripoli, which has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced tens of thousands. The campaign began just as the UN was laying the ground for a political conference to unite the country.
UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame said last week that he’d asked eastern Libyan tribal leaders behind the closing of the ports to specify their demands before oil revenues were discussed in Cairo. They have been disputing the “unfair distribution of oil,” he said in Geneva on Thursday.