Supporters of the retired Libyan brigade, Khalifa Haftar, stormed the oil port of Zouitina in the east of the country and stopped exporting from it, in a move praised by a spokesman for Haftar, at a time when the Oil Corporation warned of its repercussions.
Anadolu Agency quoted local sources as saying that hundreds of Haftar supporters stormed the port and demanded that its employees close it, claiming that the oil sale money is used by the internationally recognized government of reconciliation.
The same sources expected that the protesters would close other oil fields and ports during the coming hours, according to a statement issued by the protesters prior to the closure of the port of Zouitina.
The protesters announced in the statement their intention to stop the export of oil from all ports, starting with the port of Zouitina.
Commenting on this, Khalifa Haftar's spokesman, Ahmed Al-Mesmari, said the closure of the oil ports and ports was "a huge step for the Libyan people."
"The Libyan people are the ones who closed the oil ports and fields and prevented the export of oil ... We only have to protect our people, protect all components of the Libyan people and not allow anyone to threaten the Libyan people," the spokesman added.
On the other hand, a source in the National Oil Corporation of Libya said that the export of crude from the oil ports in the east and central of the country will be stopped from Saturday, which will lead to the loss of exports of 700 thousand barrels per day.
Earlier Friday, the Libyan Oil Corporation warned against calls to close oil ports ahead of the Berlin conference on Sunday in an attempt to settle the ongoing conflict in Libya.
"The oil and gas sector is the lifeblood of the Libyan economy and the only source of income for the people, in addition to the fact that the oil installations belong to the Libyan people and should not be used as a card for political bargaining," said the institution’s president, Mustafa Sanallah.
"Stopping oil production and exporting will have severe and predictable consequences for the economy. We will face a collapse in the exchange rate, and the budget deficit will worsen to an unbearable level, as we will see foreign companies leave, and we will suffer production losses that may take many years to recover," he added.
San'a Allah stated that the attempt to close oil installations is "economic crimes in Libyan law and their punishment may amount to the death penalty", in addition to being considered a war crime under international humanitarian law, as he put it.
The National Oil Corporation called on the forces charged with protecting oil installations to prevent any attempt to close them and "if it fails to do so, the corporation will be forced to search for other options to secure the protection of vital installations", without disclosing what these options are.
These developments come at a time when the German capital Berlin is preparing to host a conference on Libya on Sunday aimed at consolidating the field truce.
An arms embargo will also be proposed to the parties to the conflict, and work to find an international political consensus to resolve the Libyan crisis away from a military solution.
Haftar’s forces oversee the securing of oil fields and ports in the central region (the oil crescent), Brega, and the city of Tobruk on the Egyptian border, while those facilities are run by the Oil Corporation of the Al-Wefaq government, which the international community does not recognize as a marketer for Libyan oil.
The Hilal oil region includes four oil ports (Zouitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf and Sidra), located between the cities of Benghazi and Sirte, and it contains oil fields, whose production represents about 60% of Libya's oil exports abroad.
And Libya's production last October reached 1.167 million barrels per day, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Libya - which has the largest oil reserves on the African continent - has suffered from violence and power struggles since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011 in the wake of a popular uprising and military intervention led by France, Britain, and the United States.
Since April 2019, forces loyal to Haftar have launched an attack on the capital, Tripoli, which is under the authority of the internationally recognized National Accord government, in an attempt to control it.
The ceasefire agreement that began last week, according to the Turkish-Russian initiative, remains in force despite the two sides accusing each other of breaching it.