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The recent turmoil in Libya’s Oil Crescent – a region which stretches along the coast from Sirte to Ras Lanuf, and which extends down to the Jufra district – has underscored the competition for the control of state revenues, as Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) has intensified its attempts to seize key national institutions ahead of the December 2018 presidential elections.
Seven years after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya remains locked in a cycle of offensives and counter-offensives between militias loyal to rival political groups. Although oil production experienced a significant increase in 2017, continuing insecurity and the vulnerability of oil infrastructure to disruptions from armed groups and local protesters still largely constrain Libya’s oil potential.
According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, Libya has the largest proven crude oil reserves in Africa, with 48.4bn barrels. The hydrocarbons sector constitutes the backbone of Libya’s economy: oil exports typically provide more than 90% of government revenue and over 95% of export earnings. The battle for the control of oil resources is at the center of a conflict pitting the country’s two rival administrations against each other, with armed groups fighting to strengthen their grip over the fragmented political landscape. Among all actors, the most important one is Marshal Haftar’s LNA.