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Just a few days after Libya reopened its eastern oil ports and started to ramp up production that had been offline for weeks, production at one of the country’s largest oil fields, Sharara, is now expected to drop by 160,000 bpd after oil workers were abducted on Saturday and oil wells closed as a precaution.
Early on Saturday, unknown armed assailants entered the facilities of the Sharara oil field and kidnapped four of the staff, but two of them have been since released, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in a statement.
The company operating the field, Akakus—a joint venture of NOC and a consortium consisting of Total, Repsol, Equinor, and OMV—is closely monitoring the situation.
“Oil wells in the surrounding area have been shut down as a precaution, and all other workers evacuated. Expected losses to daily production are 160,000 barrels a day,” the NOC said on Saturday.
Oil production at the Sharara field, which had been pumping between 200,000 bpd and 300,000 bpd recently, has already dropped to below 100,000 bpd, an engineer at the site told Reuters. One of the abducted workers is a Romanian, according to engineers at the field.
Over the past year, the giant Sharara oil field has seen numerous blockades by armed groups, and crude oil production has often been offline or reduced, even for weeks at a time.
Related: Is The Oil Industry Repeating A Critical Error
Last week, NOC lifted the force majeure on four ports in the eastern part of the country and production was ramping up after the export terminals were handed over to the Tripoli-based internationally recognized Libyan oil company.
“Production and export operations will return to normal levels within the next few hours,” the NOC said on July 11, lifting the ten-day force majeure on the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Hariga, and Zuetina, which had crippled Libyan oil production and had oil market participants worried that another major supply disruption would push oil prices up.
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.