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Libya: a protest demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow at the Mellitah gas complex

A Libyan source told "Nova" that the demonstrators belong to the "No Corruption" movement


© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

A protest demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow at 14pm Italian time at the gas complex Mellitah, the only hub for the export of Libyan gas to Italy through the Greenstream gas pipeline. The demonstrators of the movementNo Corruption”, a group that had already organized similar protests in the past, come from the municipalities of western Tripoli, Zawiya, Surman, Ajilat and Al Jabal. Protesters from cities on Libya's northwestern coast have threatened to close the Mellitah site "within three days" if their demand to fire the president of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Farhat Bengdara, will not be satisfied.

The protest is part of the context of the controversy erupting in Libya over negotiations with a consortium led by Eni with the French Total, the Emirate Adnoc and the Turkish one Tpao for the development of the onshore Hamada field, east of Ghadames. The agreement - carried out by the Noc and which should be signed at the end of January - has been criticized by institutions such as the Ministry of Petroleum, the House of Representatives and the High Council of State because it is considered disadvantageous for the Libyan side and does not comply with the Libyan laws. For its part, the Libyan Government of National Unity (Gun) led by the prime minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, at an expanded meeting of the Supreme Council for Energy and Water Affairs, said all technical submissions would be taken into account, but said Libya must "increase oil and gas production" by developing "new discoveries ” with “foreign and internal investments”, in full respect “of the rights of the Libyan state”.

Libya can export up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas to Italy per year via the pipeline that connects Sicily to the North African country's gas fields, but in 2022 Libyan natural gas production decreased by 8 percent. According to the Libyan Audit Bureau, the total quantity exported last year to Italy via the pipeline Greenstream did not exceed 2,48 billion cubic meters, equal to 10 percent of the estimated total gross production of 24,40 billion cubic meters: a modest result considering the potential, mainly due to the progressive depletion of existing deposits, Libyan infrastructure deficiencies and gas flaring (the wasteful combustion of gas that is released spontaneously during the extraction phase, a highly polluting phenomenon, widespread especially in eastern Libya).

Yesterday, the NOC declared a state of force majeure - that is, the impossibility of delivering cargoes of crude oil to customers - in the Sharara field, the largest in Libya with an output of approximately 270 thousand barrels of crude oil per day, by of the Fezzan Gathering, a collective made up of notables from Fezzan (the southern Libyan region) supported by the forces of the Libyan general Khalifa Haftar The closure of the field, which occurred on January 3, caused the cessation of crude oil supplies to the port of Zawiya, the NOC highlighted in a note, underlining that "negotiations are currently underway in an attempt to resume production as soon as possible" .

Meanwhile, El Feel (Elephant), a field located in the Murzuq basin and operated by Eni, remains open (at least for now), despite the state of force majeure imposed on the nearby Sharara field. Some observers have mistakenly reported the closure of El Feel, whose northward oil transportation lines pass through Sharara. But the oil site (which extracts, when fully operational, around 70 thousand barrels of the Bu Attifel quality, low in sulfur and very easy to refine) continues to be open, according to what "Agenzia Nova" has learned from sources present on site.

It is worth remembering that the closure of oil sites is relatively frequent in Libya, in particular in the south-western Libyan region of Fezzan, rich in oil but poor in services, where it is not the government of Tripoli that is in charge, but rather the clan linked to Haftar and his sons, especially Khaled and Saddam, recently promoted from brigadier general to the rank of major general. The Sharara blockade and the threat to close Mellitah appear to have a political connotation and must be included in the broader framework of the negotiations carried out (not without difficulty) by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to bring the North African country to elections and put an end to a transition phase that has lasted for over ten years.

Libya's crude oil production of about 1,2 million barrels per day is equivalent to about 1 percent of global oil demand. The country produced 1,19 million barrels per day in November, according to estimates by the specialized agency "Argus Media". Libya ended 2023 with oil exports increasing by 8 percent in December, reaching 1,05 million barrels per day. Cargoes to Libya's key Mediterranean and northwestern European markets rose 2 percent from November to 829.000 barrels a day last month, supported by increased exports to Italy and Spain. Exports to Asia-Pacific also increased, while transatlantic shipments decreased.

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