(MENAFN - AFP) Western states on Monday called for a rapid reopening of oil terminals in eastern Libya after rebels agreed to gradually lift a nine-month blockade.
The rebels seeking regional autonomy agreed Sunday to allow the reopening of two of four oil terminals which they have blockaded since July.The blockades have denied the country vital revenues, as the weak central government struggles to impose law and order following the 2011 uprising that ended Moamer Kadhafi's four-decade reign. Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, in a joint statement issued in Tripoli, welcomed the agreement."Our governments call on all parties concerned to implement the agreement in full and as quickly as possible," they said.They called for "the prompt establishment of a transparent and inclusive national dialogue that includes particular focus on the fundamental national and regional questions involving Libya's resources."The deal allows for the immediate reopening of the Zueitina and Al-Hariga terminals, which have a combined oil export capacity of 210,000 barrels per day (bpd). The agreement aims for a lifting of the blockade of Ras Lanouf and Al-Sidra ports, which together have a 550,000 bpd capacity, within two to four weks.
A government spokesman, Ahmed Lamin, told AFP that Zueitina and Al-Hariga were returned to the control of Libyan authorities on Sunday, although no obvious changes were observed at the two ports.Global oil prices weakened on Monday after the agreement struck in Libya.Tripoli says the blockade of the export terminals has cost Libya more than 14 billion in lost oil revenues, slashing exports from 1.5 million to 250,000 bpd.The rebels have demanded a referendum on restoring the autonomy that the eastern Cyrenaica region enjoyed for the first 12 years after Libyan independence in 1951.They have also sought full back-pay for their men, who were employed as security guards at the oil terminals before launching their blockade.Details of Sunday's agreement were kept under wraps.The eastern oil terminals were a key battleground in the NATO-backed uprising that saw Kadhafi toppled and killed in 2011.A Western diplomat said the rebels were "trying to find a way out of the crisis they created" with an abortive oil export bid on a rogue tanker last month.The US Navy intercepted the tanker and returned it to Libya, and the UN Security Council on March 19 passed a resolution banning all unauthorised Libyan oil exports.