Libya's Government of National Unity to replace oil chairman Sanalla

TRIPOLI, July 12 (Reuters) - Libya's Government of National Unity (GNU) moved to replace the National Oil Corp (NOC) chairman and board on Tuesday as control over the state energy producer was drawn further into a complex political standoff between rival factions.

According to the text of the decision confirmed to Reuters by a GNU official, Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah will replace veteran NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla with Farhat Bengdara, the central bank governor before Libya's 2011 revolution.

The GNU did not announce the decision, which circulated widely in local and social media, but the Oil Ministry later welcomed the move in a statement.

Separately, NOC said it was resuming oil exports from two ports and hoping to restart output at closed fields, signalling a possible end to a blockade by eastern forces imposed as a tactic to drive Dbeibah from office.

Access to state oil revenue through NOC and the Central Bank of Libya has been the main prize for sparring factions since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that led to years of chaos and violence in the North African country.

In March, the eastern-based parliament appointed a new government under Fathi Bashagha to take over in Tripoli, but Dbeibah refused to step down.

Libya's Oil Minister Mohamed Oun, who has feuded with Sanalla, said the NOC board changes were "an important step to preserve oil wealth".

Libya's oil blockade has reduced output by 850,000 barrels per day (BPD) at a time of global supply constriction and reduced fuel supplies to power stations, adding to electricity cuts that have sparked protests across the country.

The leadership of NOC is not among the "sovereign positions" that require broad agreement among Libya's rival political institutions to change.

However, with the parliament challenging the legitimacy of Dbeibah's government, any move by him to change the NOC leadership could prompt opposition.

Reporting by Reuters Libya newsroom; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing Mark Heinrich and Christopher Cushing

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