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Libya’s largest oil field closed as turmoil intensifies

CAIRO (AP) – Tribal leaders in southern Libya shut down the county’s largest oil field, authorities said on Monday, the latest closure of an oil facility amid a bitter standoff between two rival governments.

Oil production at the Sharara field has been stopped and the state-run National Oil Corp declared force majeure at the field, which produces around 450,000 barrels a day. Force majeure is a legal manoeuver that enables a company to get out of its contractual obligations because of extraordinary circumstances.

The corporation called the shutdown of the field an “absurd move” that mirrors the ongoing standoff in the country. The closure will likely create a fuel crisis in the oil-rich country, as the field is one of the main sources of domestic fuel.

The corporation did not name those people behind the closure, but its announcement came a few hours after tribal leaders in the desert town of Ubari, about 950 kilometres south of the capital, Tripoli, said they shut down the field in protest against the government of embattled Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

They called for Tripoli-based Dbeibah to hand over power to the government of Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed by the Parliament in February to lead a transitional administration after Libya failed to hold its first presidential election in December.