Libya’s ‘New’ NOC Chair Vows Oil Will Flow Within A Week

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After an armed takeover of Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) on Thursday, newly appointed chairman Farhat Bengdara has told media that he is in full control and that force majeure could be lifted on Libya’s oil exports within a week.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Bengdara said he would double Libya’s crude oil production to 1.2 million bpd. He also reiterated assurances to foreign partners that all existing contracts would be honored.

Serious doubts remain as to Bengdara’s control, however, as long-time NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla has refused to step down in the face of a takeover decree from the Government of National Unity (GNU), led by interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, whose own mandate’s legitimacy is questioned.

In an address to the public on Thursday, a defiant Sanalla, who has run the politically independent NOC for eight years, refused to accept the takeover, calling Dbeibah’s government “illegitimate” as his mandate technically expired when he failed to hold elections in December 2021.

In a telephone interview with Reuters later on Thursday, Sanalla said he was in Tripoli attempting to defuse the situation and calling for international pressure to avoid what would inevitably lead to the creation of two parallel NOCs in a country already suffering a dangerous deadlock with parallel governments vying for control of the nation’s oil resources.

On Friday, Dbeibah filed a complaint with the Attorney General against Sanalla, saying that he “deliberately appeared in the media and made blatant and irresponsible statements against the Prime Minister and some other officials, refusing to implement the cabinet’s decision and hampered the work of the hand-over committee”.

Sanalla has also filed a complaint demanding the takeover decree be revoked and accusing the Dbeibah government of acting to appease the UAE.

In the meantime, the NOC’s website and social media accounts have not published any updates since Thursday, further questioning who is in control.