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French Navy prevents tanker from loading oil in Libya

French Mistral-class helicopter carriers
French navy ship, 31 May 2016 [Wikipedia]

A French navy frigate has stopped a Libya-bound tanker from loading refined oil products from reaching the eastern port of Tobruk near the Egyptian border, leaving it afloat offshore for almost a week, according to four Western diplomats.

Bloomberg reported the French Cassard class frigate Jean-Bart was on an EU mission called Irini aimed at enforcing an arms embargo on Libya and to block illicit oil sales that could finance the country's warring parties.

The sources also disclosed that the US and the UN had also exerted pressure to block the shipment. Currently only the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) is authorised to export Libyan oil. However, military commander Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is supported by the UAE, Egypt and Russia controls most of the country's oil fields.

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Due to the blockade, Libya's oil production has collapsed to less than 100,000 barrels per day, compared to earlier in the year where it stood at more than one million. The NOC, which is owned by the Turkish-supported, UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) this week announced the loss of some $5 billion as a result of the cuts.

"Libyan people across the whole country are the ones who will feel the cost of this illegal blockade. The low revenue will simply delay further any government investment in public services, the national economy, and the foundations of future prosperity for Libya," said NOC Chairman, Mustafa Sanalla.

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