Saturday January 18, 2020
First, the background. When the United States abandoned the Iran agreement, that left Turkey’s oil imports adrift due to newly imposed US Treasury sanctions on Iranian oil exports. By December 2018, Turkey was forced to look elsewhere for its oil imports with Libya being the most logical choice by price and proximity, despite the violence there. Misrata rebels allied with Libya Dawn in charge of Libya’s largest free trade port, arranged oil exports from Zawiya and Sirte to Italy* and Turkey, at favorable prices.
Recall that Tripolitania (west) and Cyrenaica (east) are at war, and Cyrenaica has its own oil production and storage terminals in the east while most proceeds (for both belligerents) in the Libyan conflict are settled by Libya’s National Oil Company. But little of that mattered to Turkey’s oil import market and Turkey signed an energy corridor agreement with Libya. Then in April of 2019, the Libyan National Army’s offensive versus Tripolitania’s Government of National Accord (GNA) began, resulting in the fall of Sirte early this year.
Turkey’s foray into Libyan oil ran into trouble by June of 2018. Turkey objected to LNA rogue oil deals free of NOC oversight, where the NOC’s mandate was to enforce the UN arms embargo by disbursing funds only for civilian government use. Then the LNA’s April offensive resulted in air strikes on Misrata and the west, impacting Turkey’s oil imports. The fall of Sirte and LNA strikes on NOC offices and the Zawiya oil terminal late in 2019 dealt serious blows to Turkeys’ oil ambitions in Libya.