Production from four Libyan oilfields has been shut in, causing NOC, the state oil company, to declare force majeure on crude exports from two ports.

NOC said in a statement on Monday that production from El Sharara, Libya's largest field with a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, as well as the El Feel, Wafa and Hamada fields, had been shut down by the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), a paramilitary force whose brief is to protect NOC’s assets and facilities.

In a Facebook post issued within the last hour, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said the PFG’s decision “wastes the country’s wealth” and creates “poverty for the Libyan people,” particularly at a time when oil prices have risen and oil is a mainstay of the economy.

As a result, he said the NOC has had to declare force majeure on oil exports from the Zawia and Mellitah terminals in the country's north west, while gas feedstock for domestic power stations has dried up, leading to electricity outages.

NOC has asked Libya’s Public Prosecutor’s Office to look at bringing the PFG to account.

Akakus - a joint venture between NOC, Repsol, OMV, Equinor and TotalEnergies – operates El Sharara; Eni operates El Feel; while NOC operates Agoco; and Mellitah – the Eni/NOC joint venture - operates Wafa.

Local reports attributed the oilfield shut-ins to NOC’s decision to remove Ahmed Ammar as chairman of Akakus.

The PFG’s response has been supported by Libya’s Minister of Oil Mohamed Aoun who is reported to have written a letter to the head of Akakus’ management committee, urging that it ignores NOC’s plan.

Aoun and Sanalla have been at loggerheads over the last year or so, with the minister declaring on multiple occasions that he has suspended the NOC boss, most recently on 14 October.

Yesterday, the NOC issued a statement saying that Aoun does not have the legal power to suspend Sanalla, citing a decision from Libya’s Administrative Control Authority on 25 October.

NOC's statement said: “The National Oil Corporation has clarified on several occasions the invalidity of these flawed decisions issued by the minister with more personal than professional motives, which reflect a great shortcoming and lack of understanding of the law regulating state institutions.”

The oil shutdowns come days before a presidential election is set to be held in Libya, a poll that aims to bring a formal end to years of conflict in the North African country.

The election is set to take place on 24 December.

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