Libyan oil minister asks for NOC board reshuffle

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Posted – 19th August 2021

Libyan oil minister Muhammad Aoun has written to the Government of National Unity (GNU) requesting that the long-serving chairman of the country’s state-owned oil firm be replaced as part of a board reshuffle.

Aoun has recommended that NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla be replaced by Taher al-Qahtani and that his ministerial undersecretary Rafat al-Abbar be put on the company’s board, according to a Libyan source. The GNU will make a decision on Aoun’s request, the source said, implying that the oil ministry cannot unilaterally implement changes to NOC’s board.

Libya’s oil sector has laboured under the weight of political uncertainty and civil unrest in recent years, causing indefinite postponements to maintenance works, disruption to crude production and exports, and a lack of foreign investment. Aoun’s initiative follows a similar proposal for a board shake-up at NOC made by certain members of the Benghazi-based House of Representatives last month.

Tensions have been mounting between Sanalla and Aoun since March when the oil ministry was set up under the temporary stewardship of the GNU. An elected administration is set to succeed the GNU after nationwide elections in December, although delays in establishing a legal framework have raised doubts about whether the vote will go ahead.

Relations between the two men have gradually deteriorated because of an overlap in the jurisdictions of their respective institutions. Before the GNU was set up, NOC had assumed some oil ministry duties in the absence of a unified oil ministry. For years, Sanalla represented Libya’s interests at Opec ministerial meetings, a mantle that has now been passed to Aoun. Sanalla also brokered exploration and production partnerships with foreign oil companies and had become the point of contact for Libyan crude term supply contracts.

ARGIUS MEDIA – Ruxandra Iordache

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