What brought this agreement about?
The impetus came from the chairman of the Presidency Council, Mr Serraj, who indicated to Dr el-Maghrabi and I in a meeting in March that this was what he wanted, and I understand the President of the House of Representatives gave Dr el-Maghrabi similar instructions. Dr el-Maghrabi and I met several times to discuss this subject. We signed an MOU in Vienna just before the last Opec meeting.
What will happen to the agreements signed for export of oil by NOC East?
We will consider all contracts signed and judge them on their merits. The main criteria will be whether the counterparties meet our standards and whether the contracts benefit Libya.
Were any other types of agreement signed, ie for exploration and production?
I do not believe so.
Is a deal to share revenue with the eastern government part of his agreement?
One of the fundamental principles of this agreement is that Libya’s oil must be used for the benefit of all Libyans. It actually uses those words. Funds from the sale of oil by NOC will continue to go to the Central Bank, as before. The Presidency Council controls expenditure by the Central Bank, including money distributed to state institutions, and it is up to the Central Bank and the Council to ensure that the money is distributed fairly. Deciding on a precise split of revenue is beyond the scope of the agreement and the competence of either Dr el-Maghrabi or I to negotiate.
There have been reports that quote Dr el-Maghrabi as saying revenue will be evenly divided between the rival central banks in the east and the west. Is this correct?
Dr el-Magrabi was speaking by phone and it must have been a bad connection because this is not correct and there are a few other things which are neither correct nor possible in the story to which you are referring. As I have said, Libya’s oil must be used for the benefit of all Libyans, but deciding on the split of revenue is not something Dr el-Maghrabi or I have the authority to discuss. NOC’s sole concerns are the optimal management, production and sale of Libya’s hydrocarbon resources, not deciding who gets what from the national budget. The same story said our agreement needed to be approved by the Tobruk parliament and the Tripoli parliament. This is doubly incorrect. First, the Tripoli parliament is not one of the authorities for this agreement. And second, the agreement does not need further approval from anybody. We negotiated it at the behest of PM-designate Serraj.
What will happen to the other personnel at NOC East?
All appointments made during this past period by either party will be presented to the Presidency Council to decide on the actions to be taken. The idea is to ensure that we have the best people possible working for NOC. It represents the best of the country and should continue to do so.
Can we expect the ports that have been closed to open now?
This was not covered by the agreement, since the ports are not blockaded by NOC East, but by the PFG. The PFG supports the unity government and we have heard hopeful noises in recent days about the opening of the ports in Ajdabiya. After the unification of NOC, the opening of the ports and the increase of production are absolutely our top priorities.
Do you think this announcement will help push the HoR leadership to approve the Libyan Political Agreement?
I hope so.
What does unifying the NOCs actually entail?
We had to agree on five main issues: First, the higher authorities. Second, budgets. Third, what to do about agreements signed since the split. Fourth, personnel, including the composition of the board. Fifth, the location of the headquarters. All of these are addressed in the agreement. The higher authorities are the Presidency Council and the House of Representatives. Detailed audits of both budgets have been prepared and we are now in a position to merge them. We will review the agreements, as I say, and adopt those which are in Libya’s best interests. The headquarters of NOC, as was ordered by the government in 2013, will be moved to Benghazi when security and infrastructure permit.
What do you say to people who claim the House of Representatives actually has no legal standing since its mandate expired in October, and that the Presidency Council similarly has no legal standing since it should be approved by the HoR?
We are in a critical moment in terms of the legitimacy of all our institutions. Many people and political bodies can claim some source of legitimacy, though all are flawed. This has led to divisions in the country. I think we have to act to eliminate divisions and try to find real opportunities for compromise. My job as chairman of NOC has been to maintain its legitimacy, and to protect it from becoming a casualty of the political divisions because we can rebuild the country and its political institutions on the foundations it and the other institutions provide, but without them, peace and stability will be very hard to find. The LPA, in my opinion, is the best option for peace on the table right now.
Is it perfect?
Is it a step toward peace, unity and stability in Libya?
I believe so
4 July 2016