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Libya’s Largest Oil Field Shuts Down Just One Day After It Restarted

Armed individuals entered Libya’s largest oil field, El Sharara, just a day after reports said the field had restarted production after months of idling amid the ongoing civil war. Another force majeure has been declared.

Reuters quotes the National Oil Corporation as saying the “armed force” had told the workers on the field to stop working just hours after they had begun planned maintenance at the field. NOC itself told its employees not to obey that order. Details about the armed force were not disclosed.

"The armed group, which came from Sebha, stormed the Sharara oilfield and pulled their guns on civilian unarmed workers, coercing them to stop production at the field at dawn," the NOC said in a Tuesday statement.

The first production phase at Sharara was supposed to begin at a capacity of 30,000 bpd, Libya’s state oil firm said in a statement, noting that production was expected to return to full capacity within 90 days due to the damages caused by the long shutdown. The field has a total production capacity of 300,000 bpd.

Libya also restarted a second oilfield over the weekend, the 70,000-bpd El Feel which is linked to Sharara, a field engineer told Reuters on Sunday.

Libya’s oil industry ground to halt after the Libyan National Army, a group affiliated with the eastern government of Libya, blockades the oil export terminals of the country. The blockade was part of the LNA’s offensive against Tripoli and the UN-supported government.

Fighting has been ongoing since then, with oil production falling from over 1 million bpd to less than 100,000 bpd, with exports shrinking by 92 percent between January and May. The NOC also said last month the total losses incurred from the blockade and the production outages had reached $5 billion.

“The first quarter of 2020 was a huge decrease in revenues for Libya, as a direct result of the illegal blockade of numerous oil and gas facilities. This is only part of the picture, as the corrosion in pipes caused by still oil and salt water is resulting in physical damage that will cost millions to fix when the crisis is over,” NOC’s chairman, Mustafa Sanalla said in late May.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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