Norland: Sanalla’s Dismissal Could be Challenged in Court

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The US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland expressed his deep concern over the developments surrounding the National Oil Corporation (NOC), after the dismissal of its Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.

Norland said that “the NOC is vital to Libya’s stability and prosperity, and has remained politically independent and technically competent under the leadership of Sanalla.”

Norland confirmed that the reported replacement of the NOC Board of Directors “may be contested in court but must not become the subject of armed confrontation.”

“The key public policy considerations for Libya in this regard appear to be oil and gas production (which) is actually being restored, in order to address urgent issues affecting the lives of every Libyan, especially electricity shortages,” Norland tweeted.

He urged Libyan leaders to “recognize that once again these developments demonstrate the urgent need for the political will to compromise and set the immediate stage for reconciliation and elections.”

On Tuesday, the Government of National Unity (GNU), headed by Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba issued a decision replacing Sanalla with Farhat Bengdara. This has raised concerns the state oil producer is being pulled into Libya’s political standoff.

Dbaiba also set up a committee to manage the transition to the new Board of Directors, according to a statement published on the Oil Ministry website.

Sanalla has rejected his dismissal, and lifted the force majeure on the Zueitina and Brega ports. As well as begin shipments of condensate from them.

Analysts say the appointment of Bengdara, a former Central Bank Governor before 2011 to run the NOC may herald an attempt by Dbaiba to shore up his position in Tripoli.

Recently, Norland confirmed that the Head of the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla “was under great pressure” to transfer oil revenues to the Government of National Unity (GNU) in April.

In an interview with Al-Wasat TV, Norland said that the Economic Working Group (EWG) was seeking to find a mechanism to manage oil revenues, “but we were surprised that Mustafa Sanalla fell under great pressure to transfer revenues.”