* Eastern move puts 190,000 bpd from Hariga at risk
* Oil officials say terminal is operating normally
* Past efforts by east to sell oil have been blocked
By Ayman al-Warfalli
BENGHAZI, Libya, June 15 A parallel state oil
company based in eastern Libya has ordered a halt to exports
handled by Glencore from the port of Hariga, putting
the trading giant once again at the heart of a long-standing
dispute for the control of Libya's oil.
Glencore has an exclusive deal with the internationally
recognised National Oil Corp (NOC) based in Tripoli to export
crude from the eastern port, but the rival eastern NOC has been
trying to wrest control of those crude sales since late 2014.
The eastern NOC called on the port's operator to halt
Glencore's loadings because of the trader's links to Qatar. It
said it was acting on letters from Abdullah al-Thinni's eastern
government requiring companies to cut links with Glencore.
Qatar Holding and CEO Ivan Glasenberg are the largest
stakeholders in Glencore. Qatar has an 8.49 percent stake.
Glencore and Qatar also jointly own a 19.5 percent stake in
Russia's state-controlled oil firm Rosneft, which in
turn has an agreement with NOC to buy crude. Glencore declined
The NOC in Benghazi, which has repeatedly tried and failed
to take control of oil exports from the NOC in Tripoli,
published the order targeting Glencore late on Wednesday.
The Benghazi NOC is aligned with a government and parliament
also based in the east, both of which issued statements naming
Glencore. Their military commander, Kahlifa Haftar, has received
backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates which, along
with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar last week.
The countries accused Qatar of fomenting regional unrest,
supporting Islamist militants and the Muslim Brotherhood, and
getting too close to Iran.
Qatar said the move was based on lies.
Officials in eastern Libya have issued a flurry of
statements singling out people and entities with alleged links
to Qatar or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Previous efforts by east Libyan factions to export oil have
been blocked under U.N. Security Council resolutions that
recognise the NOC in Tripoli as the sole legitimate seller of
Libyan oil. Haftar's military has allowed exports to flow freely
from the east under the Tripoli NOC.
A spokesman from NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Company
(AGOCO), which operates exports of Messla and Sarir crude from
Hariga, said it had not received the instruction from the
Omran al-Zwai said AGOCO, which produces 250,000 barrels per
day (bpd), was operating as usual. The majority of the AGOCO's
production is exported by Glencore.
A port official at Hariga said a tanker had loaded 460,000
barrels of crude on Thursday for export to Greece. Daily volumes
through the port are about 190,000 barrels, he said.
The NOC in Tripoli warned al-Thinni earlier this week not to
use the Qatar dispute "as a pretext for exporting oil
NOC Tripoli Chairman Mustafa Sanalla wrote to Thinni that
Glencore was a publicly traded company, and not controlled by
Qatar. "It supported us during the (2011) revolution, and
supplied fuel on open credit when we had queues of cars waiting
at petrol stations," he said in the letter, a copy of which was
seen by Reuters.
Glencore secured an extension to the exclusive deal for
lifting the two crude grades. The deal began in September 2015
and currently runs until the end of this year.
Over a year ago, eastern authorities blocked a Glencore
tanker from leaving the Hariga terminal for three weeks.
(Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis in Tunis; writing by Julia
Payne and Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)