In a challenge to the central government in Tripoli, the self-declared Cyrenaica government has announced that it has formed its own oil company.
The region's "prime minister", Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, told Reuters:
"We have formed a firm called Libya Oil and Gas Corp ... We will wait for a response from Tripoli and Fezzan and hope for an understanding with them.
"Then the firm will sell oil and we will keep the regional share of Tripoli and Fezzan without using it."
He added that the eastern oil firm would initially be based in Tobruk, home to the Hariga port where protesters on Friday prevented a government-chartered tanker from loading 600,000 barrels of crude bound for Italy. The firm would later move to Benghazi.
The announcement, along with a plan to set up an eastern central bank, is a blow to efforts by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to reopen oil ports and fields seized by a mix of militias, tribes and civil servants seeking political rights or higher pay.
Libya is said be losing $140 million in oil and gas revenues each day.
(Sources: Reuters, Tripoli Post)
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