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Libya’s NOC: ‘We will not allow Wagner mercenaries inside our facilities’ 

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya building, in the capital Tripoli on July 16, 2018 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images]
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya building, in the capital Tripoli on July 16, 2018 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images]

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared on Friday that it will not allow Wagner mercenaries to be part of the oil industry in the country.

This came in a statement issued by NOC Chairman of the Board of Directors Mustafa Sanalla, as he objected to what he called: “Politicising the petroleum sector, and using it as a bargaining card in fruitless negotiations for political gain.”

Foreign militias and tribes loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have shut down some Libyan oil fields and facilities since 17 January.

“We will not allow the Wagner mercenaries to have a say in the national oil industry. With all the chaos and the irregular negotiations going on, we cannot declare a force majeure,” asserted Sanalla.

He added: “We have more than 50 containers filled with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly-flammable and explosive hydro-carbonic substances, and there are mercenaries inside these facilities. That is why we cannot declare a force majeure.”

Sanalla continued: “Lifting the state of force majeure is linked to the transparency of security arrangements in coordination with the National Oil Corporation.”

READ: ‘Haftar’s militia violated ceasefire’

According to the United Nations (UN) reports, there is 1,200 Wagner personnel in Libya. Other sources estimated the number at 2,500, in addition to fighters of different nationalities operating under the command of the Russian mercenaries.

Sanalla stated: “The negotiations the corporation is holding, in coordination with President of the Transitional Council Fayez Al-Sarraj and the international community, provides for an initiative and a transparent and well-defined plan that cannot be bridged or cancelled.”

The Libyan oil and Haftar - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Libyan oil and Haftar – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

He also called for: “Operating the oil fields and ports safely for the protection of the different staff and people in the areas of production and export,” while demanding the exit of armed groups from the oil facilities and ports, in order to demilitarise these zones.

Sanalla concluded: “We pledge to stay steadfast in the face of these chaotic endeavours that serve particular political interests, and we will not allow anyone to use oil as a bargaining card in any public or discreet negotiations,” without naming any side to the conflict.

On 12 August, the NOC revealed in a statement that the total losses incurred due to the shutdown of oil fields and ports reached $8.22 million, after 208 days of forceful shutdown by Haftar’s militia.

Libya’s oil production before the shutdown reached 1.22 million barrels a day, according to identical data released by the NOC and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), compared to less than 90,000 barrels per day currently.

Libya has been witnessing an armed conflict for years, as Haftar’s militias, supported by Arab and Western countries, contest the internationally-recognised government over legitimacy and authority in the oil-rich country.

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