The Libyan government and Libyan rebels, who are occupying four major eastern oil ports, agreed to gradually end their eight-month blockade, which resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue for the Libyan government.

The terminals of Zueitina and Hariga are already under government control, Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani told the media earlier today. Two larger ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, will be freed within a month after more talks between the government and the rebels.

Zueitina and Hariga ports can ship more than 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day, while the two larger ports can ship around 500,000 barrels per day. All in all, Libya can ship 1.4 million barrels of crude oil every day when those two ports are back in government hands.

The problem lies in the resupply from the oil fields, limiting output to approximately 150,000 barrels per day until the logistical issues are resolved. Storage tanks are presently full at the ports, and shipping should get back on track swiftly.

As part of the deal, the prime minister’s spokesman told the BBC that the government had agreed to pay the salaries of guards at the terminals.

Ibrahim Jathran, leader of the eastern blockade, said on Libyan TV that the deal was proof of the peacefulness of the militiamen. “It’s a goodwill gesture on our part to prove that talking and negotiating is the only way to resolve Libyan problems without interference from the West and from others and without the use of force or threats,” he said.

Ibrahim Jathran. Courtesy of The Times
Ibrahim Jathran. Courtesy of The Times

Last month, a team of US Navy SEALs from SEAL TEAM 2 conducted a Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS)operation from the USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) at midnight Cyprus Time, using helicopters and fast boats to regain control of a North Korea-flagged oil tanker approximately 18 miles off the coast of Cyprus.

The tanker, Morning Glory, was docked at the Es Sider port and was able to escape the Libyan Navy during bad weather in the Mediterranean. Jathran’s militia was operating the Morning Glory and her content was destined to the Black Market. No one was wounded in the process and the tanker was returned to Libyan authorities.