Libya’s Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced on Saturday that it had lifted a “force majeure” on what it deemed secure oil ports and facilities in the country, but said the measure would remain in place for facilities controlled by Haftar’s forces and fighters allied with the renegade general.
"Force majeure continues in oil fields and ports where the presence of fighters … and other armed groups that obstruct the activities and operations of NOC is confirmed," the oil company said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Force majeure refers to unexpected external circumstances that prevent a party to a contract, in this case the NOC, from meeting its obligations in the field of oil production, oil export and the ensuing financial transactions.
The NOC is the only Libyan firm that can produce and sell oil under United Nations-endorsed agreements, which stipulate that revenues from the sales must flow into the Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli.
Haftar’s rebels have on several occasions in the past agreed and then shortly after declined to lift the blockade on the Libyan oilfields, saying the ban would remain in place until their demands were met on the distribution of the country’s oil income.
Pro-Haftar forces say proceeds from oil sales should be fairly distributed among all Libyan regions and not just fund the sectors of the Tripoli government.
Haftar agrees to lift Libya oil blockade
The Saturday move by the Libya’s national oil company comes a day after the Libyan rebel commander announced the lifting of eight-month blockade on the eastern oil terminals.
"I announce the resumption of production and export of oil with all the necessary conditions and procedural measures that ensure a fair distribution of its financial revenues," Haftar said in a televised address.
Ahmed Maetig, the deputy prime minister of the Libyan government in Tripoli, for his part, said a committee would be formed to ensure a fair distribution of oil revenues.
Last week, protests broke out in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, one of the rebels’ strongholds, and several other cities over electricity and fuel shortages exacerbated by the Haftar-imposed blockade against most of the country's oil facilities.