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By Ulf Laessing and Aziz El Yaakoubi
TRIPOLI/MARRAKESH, April 28 Libya is lifting
force majeure from the eastern Zueitina oil port on Monday,
state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said, paving the way to
restart exports at a second port after a deal with rebels to
unblock major terminals.
Marketing of the oil in Zueitina's storage tanks will start
from Tuesday after Libya lifted the waiver of its oil contracts,
NOC spokesman Mohammed El Harari said.
Diplomats expect both sides to implement the deal
eventually, because Libya badly needs the oil revenue, but
tactical manoeuvres and mutual mistrust are likely to cause
further delays, with two other ports still firmly closed.
In a sign that more talks are needed, Industry Minister
Suleiman al-Fitouri said on Monday the rebels were making more
"Things are stumbling," he told Reuters. "They are making
tough conditions, and the government may not concede."
At Zueitina, it was not clear when the first tanker would
arrive. A maintenance team was still assessing the damage and
there were some technical difficulties, a port source said.
Several million barrels of oil are stored in the tanks.
Zueitina, with a capacity to ship 70,000 barrels per day
(bpd), is one of four eastern ports that are supposed to reopen
after the government reached an agreement with rebels who had
been controlling them since summer.
The 110,000 bpd Hariga port in Tobruk is the only one so far
to have reopened since the agreement three weeks ago. Zueitina
was also meant to restart business, but the government said it
was delayed by technical problems due to the long closure.
The larger terminals Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were also meant
to reopen within four weeks, but there have been delays
as the rebels have accused the government of not fulfilling all
the parts of the deal, including paying financial compensation.
Under the agreement, the rebels will be reintegrated into
the state oil security force, from which they defected last
summer when they occupied the ports to press for a share of oil
Al-Fitouri said the government had agreed to pay salaries to
those guards, but the rebels had inflated the sums. "I can't say
how much (they demand), but I can say that it is higher than
salaries," he said on the sidelines of an Arab meeting in
Libya had produced around 1.4 million bpd before last
summer, with the four ports handling more than 700,000 bpd in
The dispute is only part of the widespread disruption in the
OPEC producer, where the government cannot control militias who
helped oust former strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but then
held on to their weapons and have made demands by seizing
oilfields or government ministries.
(Editing by Mark Potter and Jane Baird)