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The Firing of the NOC Chairman Risks Politicizing Libya’s Oil Company

MIN READJul 14, 2022 | 19:59 GMT

Farhat Bengdara, the new chief of Libya's National Oil Corporation appointed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, gives a press conference outside the company’s headquarters in Tripoli on July 14, 2022.

Farhat Bengdara, the new chief of Libya's National Oil Corporation appointed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, gives a press conference outside the company’s headquarters in Tripoli on July 14, 2022.

(MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images)

In firing Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) board of directors, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah is trying to end oil blockades and encourage his eastern-based rival Khalifa Hifter to enter negotiations on a possible political settlement. But while Dbeibah’s gambit may result in a quick resumption of Libyan oil exports, it could also create long-term supply and corporate compliance risks by further enabling Hifter to politicize those exports. Dbeibah, who is the internationally-recognized leader of the country, removed the entire board of NOC, including its powerful chairman Mustafa Sanalla, in a July 7 decree that was not publicly confirmed until the oil ministry published the decree on July 12. Dbeibah appointed Farhat Bengdara as Sanalla’s replacement. On July 13, Sanalla made a statement from NOC’s headquarters criticizing the decision and Dbeibah for making the move against him while he was out of the country performing the hajj. Tensions boiled over...

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