Production at Libya’s 100,000-bpd Sarir field has been halted after a protest over unpaid salaries had stopped exports at the eastern port of Hariga, Omran al-Zwai, spokesman for Libya’s Arabian Gulf Oil Co, told Bloomberg on Monday.
The sit-in protests at Hariga, initiated by a unit of the Libyan Petroleum Facilities Guard, had already caused a delay of two shipments of crude oil.
The industrial action had impeded a shipment of 600,000 barrels at Hariga en route to Italy, and such shipment has been on hold since Saturday, Bloomberg quoted al-Zwai as saying. Arabian Gulf Oil Co, or Agoco, may see its production halt within a week should the sit-in continue, the official added.
Hariga, which has a daily export capacity of 120,000 barrels, is not the only export terminal frozen by the Guard, whose allegiances are as divided as those of the national oil company, which only recently reunited after its two managements decided to forgo their differences in a bid to restore Libya’s oil production and exports.
Hariga was last closed in May, during a dispute between the eastern unit of the National Oil Corporation and the western branch of the company. It reopened relatively quickly, and from then until the start of July, exports from the terminal reached 1.5 million barrels. This is close to what Libya’s total daily exports used to be four years ago. Now, the country ships just 300,000 bpd.
Libya has been torn by conflict since the removal of Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. This conflict has had a severe effect on its oil industry, with warring factions blockading oilfields and ports alike.
Libya, which has the largest crude oil reserves in Africa, has now become second from the bottom in terms of output among OPEC members.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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