Libyan state oil company NOC is delivering petrol to a western region opposing a self-declared government in charge of the Tripoli capital, it said in a bid to showcase its impartiality in a power struggle dividing the country.
The member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has two governments, with the internationally recognised premier working out the east since losing control of Tripoli in August to a rival administration, part of a wider struggle four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
Tripoli-based NOC has sought to stay out of the conflict to avoid legal questions from customers worried that oil sales will end up on bank accounts controlled by a non-recognised government.
In an attempt to highlight its neutrality, NOC said in a statement that it was sending 31 trucks delivering more than 1 million liters of petrol products to all cities in the western mountains.
Part of the mountains are held by forces from Zintan, a city allied to the eastern government fighting the Tripoli government on a frontline west of the capital. Zintan has been largely cut off from fuel and other supplies from Tripoli.
“NOC confirms again that it works for the benefit of the Libyan people in all regions,” it said in a statement on its website.
The eastern government has unveiled plans to sell oil bypassing NOC Tripoli, launching its own central bank headquarters last week.
But oil customers have been sticking to a decade-old payment system through NOC and the central bank in Tripoli.
NOC Tripoli says it is independent from politics, although an oil minister from the Tripoli government is working out of its headquarters.