Bashagha: Political Turmoil Caused Halt of Oil Production

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On Sunday, the Libyan Prime Minister-designate, Fathi Bashagha, said that Libya has little chance of holding elections this year.

In press statements, Bashagha predicted the political upheaval is likely to continue through 2022, deepening a rift in the North African nation’s fragile institutions.

“Without a unified government, there will be no elections and chaos will continue,” the Prime Minister stressed.

However, the former Interior Minister downplayed the possibility of civil war re-erupting in the country that is trying to emerge from a decade of conflict.

More turmoil would worsen global markets that are already short of Libyan crude after a wave of port and oil-field shutdowns started in April by protesters in a bid to force outgoing Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba out. Crude prices have surged around 50% this year to $110 a barrel.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) has been silent on production, stirring speculation. The Oil Minister, who has a fractious relationship with the NOC, says output has plunged to a daily 100,000-200,000 barrels from as much as 1.3 million last year.

Bashagha said he has no current oil production figure, but that his government’s spending blueprint includes 34 billion Libyan dinars ($7 billion) requested by the corporation to enact a two-year plan to boost output to more than 1.7 million bpd.

The Libyan Prime Minister pointed out that recent oil blockades are “a direct result of the injustice the people living in the oil crescent have been and are still suffering to this day”

He noted that People in the East “are angry and unsatisfied with the state and as long as justice is not addressed and revenues are not distributed fairly, closures of oil will continue.”

Control of Libya’s oil wealth has been a major obstacle to stability since the 2011 NATO-backed overthrow of leader Moammar Gaddafi, with militias and protesters using stoppages to push political demands.

Bashagha, along with Al-Dbaiba and a Gaddafi son, was among the would-be candidates for a presidential vote scheduled for last December. That ballot was cancelled amid fears of fresh strife.

Many lawmakers argued Al-Dbaiba’s mandate was invalid after the vote did not take place, picking Bashagha to replace him. Bashagha in May attempted to enter the capital, Tripoli, to press his claim, only for violence to erupt between rival militias and force his withdrawal.