Crude oil production from Libya's largest oilfield, El Sharara, has been suspended after the Hamada valve was closed by an unknown person or persons, according to various media reports, citing two oil engineers.
The El Sharara oilfield is responsible for the production of some 300,000 barrels of oil per day at full capacity—or more than a quarter of Libya's total crude oil output.
The news—which Libya's NOC or oil ministry has yet to confirm--comes just hours after Libya's NOC said that it had closed six oil ports due to bad weather. The affected terminals include Brega, Zueitina, Ras Lanuf, Sidra, Zawiya, and Melita.
While the NOC said that the weather conditions created waves that made it impossible to berth and load tankers, the oil ministry of the Tripoli-based GNU said that the weather conditions were not so bad that terminals had to be closed, accusing the NOC of "tampering with the capabilities of the Libyan people."
Libya's oil production has continued to be unstable for years. In January, Libya's production declined to 1.008 million bpd, according to OPEC's secondary sources. Its 2021 average production was 1.148 million bpd.
The news of further oil production disruptions in Libya comes at a particularly worrisome time for the oil markets, which are already grappling with scant inventories, booming demand, and an invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Oil prices have responded to those events by climbing to levels not seen in years, with WTI breaching $111 per barrel earlier on Thursday.
It also comes at an inopportune time for Libya, which is embroiled in a political crisis that has prevented the African nation from living up to its full potential as relates to oil production. And that crisis is intensifying, with two separate governments—the old and the new—vying for power.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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