Qatar Airways commits to Iran flights despite sanctions

Qatar Airways says US sanctions on Iran will not impact flights to the Islamic republic. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018
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Qatar Airways commits to Iran flights despite sanctions

DOHA: US sanctions on Iran will not impact Qatar Airways’ flights to the Islamic republic, the airline’s boss Akbar Al-Baker said on Monday.
Speaking at a high-profile business conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Baker said services to Iran would continue despite a tightening economic and political squeeze on Iran by Washington.
“Aviation is not a sanctioned industry, Qatar Airways will continue to operate into the cities we are currently operating in Iran,” he said.
“Our flights to Iran will not be affected.”
Qatar Airways’ Iran destinations include Mashhad and Shiraz, while the airline operates daily flights to Tehran, according to its website.
Baker’s comments come as US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to impose a second round of tough sanctions on Iran next month.
A first tranche of punitive measures were introduced in August by the US after it withdrew in May from the 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Washington has also warned foreign businesses to steer clear of Iran.
Already, major European airlines including Air France and British Airways have stopped flights to Iran, following the sanctions’ announcement.
Qatar is also under scrutiny over its relationship with Iran, with whom it shares the world’s largest natural gas field.
Since June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar, sparking the worst political rift to ever hit the Gulf, in part because of Iran.
The four countries accuse Doha of seeking closer ties with Tehran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, as well as supporting radical extremist groups.
Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbors of seeking regime change.


Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

Updated 14 December 2018
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Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

  • Ransom payment would set dangerous precedent
  • NOC declared force majeure on exports on Monday

BENGHAZI: Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corp. (NOC) said it was against paying a ransom to an armed group that has halted crude production at the country’s largest oilfield.
“Any attempt to pay a ransom to the armed militia which shut down El Sharara (oilfield) would set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the recovery of the Libyan economy,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement on the company’s website.
NOC on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the 315,000-barrels-per-day oilfield after it was seized at the weekend by a local militia group.
The nearby El-Feel oilfield, which uses the same power supply as El Sharara, was still producing normally, a spokesman for NOC said, without giving an output figure. The field usually pumps around 70,000 bpd.
Since 2013 Libya has faced a wave of blockages of oilfields and export terminals by armed groups and civilians trying to press the country’s weak state into concessions.
Officials have tended to end such action by paying off protesters who demand to be added to the public payroll.
At El Sharara, in southern Libya, a mix of state-paid guards, civilians and tribesmen have occupied the field, camping there since Saturday, protesters and oil workers said. The protesters work in shifts, with some going home at night.
NOC has evacuated some staff by plane, engineers at the oilfield said. A number of sub-stations away from the main field have been vacated and equipment removed.
The occupiers are divided, with members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) indicating they would end the blockade in return for a quick cash payment, oil workers say. The PFG has demanded more men be added to the public payroll.
The tribesmen have asked for long-term development funds, which might take time.
Libya is run by two competing, weak governments. Armed groups, tribesmen and normal Libyans tend to vent their anger about high inflation and a lack of infrastructure on the NOC, which they see as a cash cow booking billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues annually.