Libya’s Tripoli government tries to oust state oil company boss

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Libya’s western-based government has said the state oil company’s board must be dissolved and that its long-standing chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, should step down, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The Government of National Unity, based in Tripoli, has appointed a new board for the National Oil Corp., with Farhat Omar Bengdara, a former central bank governor, as chairman, the people said.

It’s unclear if the NOC and Sanalla will accept the decision because Libya’s mired in political chaos and has rival prime ministers, each of which claims to be the OPEC member’s legitimate ruler.

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The Tripoli administration has tried and failed at least once in the past year to dismiss Sanalla, who’s been in his role since 2014.

The standoff could further destabilize Libya’s energy sector. Protesters calling for the ouster of Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the head of the GNU, have forced the NOC to shut several oil fields and ports since mid-April.

That has caused the country’s crude production to slump by roughly 50 percent to 600,000 barrels a day, exacerbating a supply shortage in global markets.

The NOC, Sanalla and the GNU didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Libya was meant to hold presidential elections in December, but they were delayed and no new date has been set.

Some lawmakers declared former interior minister Fathi Bashagha as premier in February and said he should hold power until polls take place. Bashagha has set up a government in the central city of Sirte and is trying to get Dbeibah to resign.

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