The Latest Legal Row over Libyan Oil: PC Clashes with NOC

Today, the NOC is the sole entity responsible for oil & gas exploration and production. It conducts such operations through its affiliated or wholly-owned companies as well as joint ventures with international companies.

Reaction by the NOC to Decree no. 270/2017

The Chairman of the NOC, Eng. Mustaf Sanallah, has denounced the Presidential Council decree dissolving the Ministry of Oil & Gas, describing it as illegal due to the fact that the Presidential Council is merely “an executive” organ.  Sanallah added that the House of Representatives is the legislative body charged with enacting laws including any laws that modify the Ministry of Oil & Gas’ responsibilities.[1]

Legal Justification for Issuing Decree 270/2017

The only possible legal justification upon which the Presidential Council relied when issuing Decree 270/2017 to cancel the Ministry of Oil & Gas is Article 9-7 of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).  Article 9-7 of the LPA states that the Council of Ministers shall “issue decisions regarding the structure and management of the executive bodies and institutions affiliated with the Government as it deems necessary and appropriate.”  However, Article 9-7 requires the Presidential Council to issue its decisions “after consultation with the relevant authorities.”

One could argue that the “relevant authorities” in this regard would be the House of Representatives and the NOC.  However, the House of Representative could not have been consulted on dissolving the Ministry of Oil & Gas as the House of Representatives no longer recognizes the LPA.

Legal difficulties concerning Decree 270/2017

It is clear that the House of Representatives has not recognized the Government of National Accord as required by the LPA, which includes the Ministry of Oil & Gas.  In addition, in order to amend the responsibilities of the NOC, the House of Representatives is required to enact a law in this regard.

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