Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) was not consulted ahead of a deal between the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and Ankara over access to areas potentially rich in natural gas.
In early December last year, the GNA and Turkey confirmed a new maritime border deal in the Mediterranean in exchange for military co-operation. Reports subsequently emerged of thousands of Syrian fighters being sent to Libya via Turkey to bolster the security of the GNA in Tripoli.
The NOC, Libya’s dominant state oil company which has tried to remain independent throughout the country’s divisive and bloody civil war, was not involved in the deal between Ankara and Tripoli though it intends to play a central role in the development of offshore gas within the country’s maritime borders.
The December deal, which would dramatically expand Turkish influence in the region, has been deeply criticised by Libya’s neighbours in the Mediterranean. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Denidas dismissed it as “ridiculous”. Egypt has called the agreement illegal.
Earlier this month in Cairo, Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece condemned maritime and security agreements while affirming there could be no military solution to the ongoing conflict in Libya.
The potential foothold gained by Ankara in Libya would infringe on plans by Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and Israel to turn the East Mediterranean into an energy centre after the discovery of massive reserves of natural gas.
More broadly, the picture painted of Libya’s oil industry is bleak. Following blockades on oil fields in the south of the country, production has fallen to 262,000 barrels per day. Plans to dramatically expand Libya’s oil production to 1.5 million barrels per day by the end of the year and 2.5 million by 2024 now look incredibly unlikely.
What path to recovery there may be for the Libyan oil sector and the country more broadly lies in the upholding of the rule of law and for global superpowers to build on last week’s peace conference in Berlin.
At the close of the one-day conference in Germany, world powers agreed to enforce the 2011 UN weapons embargo in Libya. The country’s rival leaders: Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj also agreed to send representatives to a military council that would negotiate a ceasefire to end fighting in Tripoli.
Source: The National