CAIRO (Reuters) – Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has pledged to end a months-long blockade of oil facilities, the United States embassy in the country said in a statement on Saturday, but he was unclear if oil fields and ports would reopen.
According to the statement, the Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the east, had conveyed “General Haftar’s personal commitment to allow the complete reopening of the energy sector no later than September 12”.
It comes after the United States led efforts to end the oil shutdown as part of a wider diplomatic push to cement a ceasefire and political agreement between rival factions based in the east of Libya and in the capital Tripoli, to the west.
Haftar’s LNA and its backers imposed the blockade in January, reducing Libya’s oil production from more than one million barrels per day (b / d) to less than 100,000 b / d, and further exacerbating the economic collapse of Libya.
The US embassy said that “in recent discussions with a wide range of Libyan leaders” it had supported “a financial model that would provide a credible guarantee that oil and gas revenues would be managed transparently.”
“The Embassy welcomes what appears to be a Libyan consensus that it is time to reopen the energy sector,” he said.
A source close to Haftar said that the veteran commander “was able to fulfill, for the first time in the history of Libya, the condition of a fair distribution of (oil) income”. An official announcement would be made soon, he said.
Engineers from two oil fields and one port said they remained closed. The state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC), based in Tripoli, and a spokesperson for the ANL, did not immediately comment.
Recent calls for a ceasefire by the premier of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the head of a rival parliament in the east included a proposal to freeze oil revenues in a special account pending a political agreement, as a means of ending the stand- de.
Although authorities in eastern Libya have allowed the export of some stored petroleum products to ease a power generation crisis in eastern Libya, they halted before lifting the blockade.