COMMENT: Libya’s corruption threatens the West as much as Gaddafi ever did

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun5,2024

Since the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, Libya has been wracked by internal conflict.

The country is currently divided with the UN-backed Dbeibeh government in the West and areas in the east and the south controlled by the warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Whilst conflict often flares, a moment of cooperation between the two sides in 2022 saw the ascent of Farhat Ben Ghadara as Chairman of the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC).

Still, oil corruption and fuel smuggling in Libya have skyrocketed, leaving its population losing out from the country’s central natural resource.

With the West preoccupied by the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine and escalation in the Middle East, this corruption has been left unchecked.

As it intensifies, the ramifications of its fallout are knocking on Europe’s door.

Libya’s wealth of oil fields remains the key to its growth as a country, however despite this huge potential, the population are yet to benefit. Far from responsible players, the global energy companies engaged in work on Libya’s oil fields sometimes fail to pull their weight in the bid for accountability.

This is demonstrably the case with the NC-7 oil field in the Ghadames Basin, a huge oil reserve that holds massive potential for developing Libya’s oil output.

Scrutiny from the Libyan Audit Bureau has highlighted irregularities surrounding the contract to develop NC-7. There are concerns the deal was privately agreed to with four major IOCs without an open tender process, and on terms that disadvantage Libya and Libyans.

The fact is that the NOC could work alone on a discovered block like NC-7 where development would be cheap, quick and easy. This raises questions as to why an uncompetitive international consortium would be invited into the mix – and who stands to gain.

(Continues below)

Unfortunately, NC-7 represents only a drop in the wider ocean of possible oil corruption and private deals. Over in the Dahra oil field, a small entity, established initially as ‘Esnad’, was created in 2021 with a registration value of only $10,000. Yet Esnad has been given access to a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars and linked to both a prominent US energy company and the NOC leadership. Insiders say Esnad has ulterior motives that will once again see the wrong people benefit from this project.

This secretive behaviour has led Libyans to sound the alarm, including the recently dismissed Oil Minister Mohamed Aoun, who has suggested the internationals involved should be more fully scrutinising their Libyan partners and corresponding arrangements.

Despite robust action, the former Oil Minister was replaced by Khalifa Abdul Sadiq, a man who sits on the overall NOC board, is Chairman of several oil field boards and oversight committees and is yet to raise the same concerns about Esnad.

For the West this provides its own challenges. As oil practices fall further away from public oversight, this brings subsequent challenges to Europe’s shores. The rise of fuel smuggling presents a serious threat to Libya’s ability to maintain its own fuel and oil contractual obligations to European states. As such, insiders say the chaotic finances of the hydrocarbons sector could see the taps turn off to states such as Italy in a matter of weeks; an unforeseen outcome that has been left either unnoticed or unchallenged by Europe.

Currently much of the fuel is being imported from Russia, through small brokers in Turkey and ending up in Europe illegally through various smuggling routes.

The cost of fuel smuggling according to the Central Bank of Libya was $6 billion in 2022 and without doubt is a key obstacle to the development of a country that has seen infrastructure failings, such as the Derna Dam collapse, result in the deaths of many citizens and a country left on its knees.

Whilst Europe has been asleep to these doings, Putin’s Russia certainly hasn’t. Russia’s ‘Africa Corps’, formerly known as the ‘Wagner Group’ are, according to insiders, taking a share for themselves to support their own anti-western objectives on the continent.

As such Libya has become the main platform for the Africa Corps activities to continue driving conflict in sub-Saharan nations such as Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic.

This has also softened the environment for a partnership of convenience between General Haftar and Putin.

The Russian leader is using this opportunity to scope the city of Tobruk, in the East of the country, as a new Mediterranean home for his nuclear submarines, forging a new threat to Europe’s southern flank and accelerating Libyan corruption, all while the NOC stands accused of significant mismanagement.

Libya now poses a risk to the West like never before. The apathy from Europe and increased Russian influence cannot go unchecked. Sanctions must be considered against individuals and entities patently at the heart of this corruption.

Only by calling these out, particularly in the all-important oil sector, can the potential of Libya’s future be realised.

These issues do not have to develop into a threat to Europe but should instead catalyse a new partnership.

As the current leading oil producer in Africa, this oil wealth can not only lift the population from deprivation but also support Europe in its fuel supply issues left by the conflict in Ukraine. It can also prevent new geopolitical threats to Europe emerging from Putin’s continued interference and serve a blow to his global ambitions by reducing his influence.

Time has come for the West to support the Libyan people in realising the country they fought so hard for in 2011 and to call out this corruption.

Daniel Kawczynski MP has held a lifelong interest in Libya and is author of the book: Seeking Gaddafi


Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

Related Post

One thought on “COMMENT: Libya’s corruption threatens the West as much as Gaddafi ever did”
  1. The corruption in Libya is posing a significant threat not only to the country itself but also potentially to the West. It’s concerning to see how oil corruption and smuggling are on the rise, depriving the Libyan population of their rightful resources. With global energy companies failing to act with accountability, the situation only worsens. Action needs to be taken to address this issue before the consequences reach Europe’s doorstep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *