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Libya’s El Feel oil field was shuttered on Friday, taking 70,000 bpd of oil production offline, after guards at the field withdrew amid a dispute over pay, Reuters reports, citing a Libyan oil source and a local mediator.
On Thursday, reports emerged that Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) had evacuated its workers from the El Feel, or Elephant, oil field amid threats from the field’s guards who are locked in a pay dispute with the company. The guards are from the Petroleum Facilities Guards group that held all of Libya’s oil export terminals under a blockade for more than a year until September 2016. There has also been talk about a wider disruption to oil production, according to sources who spoke to S&P Platts, which might affect Libya’s largest oilfield—Sharara—which has the capacity to produce 300,000 bpd of crude.
Guards at the El Feel oil field have withdrawn completely, after rejecting a request by the NOC to stay until talks over the pay row continued, Hassan Bedy Abubaker, a former guard who is now mediating between local representatives and the NOC, told Reuters on Friday.
“All the petroleum facilities guards of El Feel field withdrew last night and all the field’s staff have also been evacuated,” Abubaker told Reuters, adding that the last group left today.
“The field is shut and pumping process has also stopped,” Abubaker said, and his words were corroborated by two other local sources who told Reuters that El Feel was shut as of Friday.
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Following a relatively normal operations situation at the end of last year and early this year, Libya has managed to restore its crude oil production close to 1 million bpd, but still far from the 1.6 million bpd it pumped before 2011. Analysts have said that uncertainties over the security situation would likely prevent Libya from raising its production too much over 1 million bpd.
In January, the third-largest increase of oil production among OPEC nations came from Libya, whose production rose by 21,000 bpd to 978,000 bpd. Libya and Nigeria—which now have a combined cap of 2.8 million bpd to contribute to the deal after being exempt last year—together were just shy of that ceiling as Nigeria’s production was 1.819 million bpd, according to OPEC’s secondary sources.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.