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Oil Prices Inch Higher As Libya Closes Crude Export Terminal

The Zueitina oil terminal in Libya has ceased loading cargos as port workers protest, demanding better working conditions, Bloomberg quoted the head of the workers’ union Merhi Abridan as saying. This means that oil coming from the fields around Zueitina will be stored at the port for the duration of the protest, and a spike in exports will likely follow.

Zueitina is managed by a joint venture between the National Oil Corporation, Occidental Petroleum, and Austria’s OMV. The port exports an average of six 600,000 to 630,000-barrel cargoes a month, Abridan told Bloomberg. The workers at the port are demanding to be paid 20 months worth of delayed salaries, as well as health insurance, annual leave, payments for overtime work, and more time for maintenance work.

At the same time, however, Libya’s overall crude output has been reduced by a decline in the production from its biggest field, Sharara. According to sources who spoke to Bloomberg, Sharara’s output has fallen by 100,000 bpd over the last week, to 200,000 bpd at the moment. There has been an incident involving the theft of two vehicles property of Repsol, the company operating the field, at gunpoint. Following the event, the company has advised workers to stay away from certain areas. Related: Oil Rig Count Rises Despite Ballooning Shale Debt

Earlier this month, a militant attack on a control room at the port of Zawiya caused the gradual shutdown of Sharara, as the crude from the field flows along pipelines to Zawiya. This was the latest in a string of attacks on infrastructure that saw output from the country’s largest field suspended this year. It is possible that the 30-percent output reduction at the field now is a result of that last incident.

Libya is pumping around 1 million barrels daily, after militant activity receded and the rival political factions moved closer to an agreement on how to use the country’s oil wealth.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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