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Guards Block Oil Loading At Libyan Port

Petroleum facilities guards at an oil export terminal in eastern Libya have delayed the loading of at least one crude oil cargo and are threatening to block exports until their demands to be paid their salaries are met, the manager of the Hariga oil port told Reuters on Wednesday.

The oil export terminal at Hariga was one of the first to resume exports in September 2020, after the eight-month-long blockade of all Libyan ports was lifted.

The head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, whose troops, with help from affiliated groups, had blockaded Libya’s oil ports in January, announced the end of the blockade on September 18.

Since then, Libya’s oil production and exports have quickly recovered, and even reached within three months the levels seen before the blockade in January 2020.

The petroleum facilities guards have often disrupted Libyan crude exports in recent years because of demands over salaries or politics. This time, the guards demand to receive unpaid salaries, threatening blockade at the Hariga port unless their demands are met.

The guards began a sit-in at the port earlier this week and have so far delayed the loading of one cargo of one million barrels of crude oil, the port manager Rajab Sahnoun and one of the guards told Reuters.

Disruption to Libyan crude exports could be bullish for oil prices, if it is on a larger scale, because the faster-than-expected increase in Libyan oil production was already giving OPEC and its allies in the OPEC+ group another issue to discuss at their monthly meetings, on top of the outlook for oil demand early in 2021. 

By November 2020, Libya’s oil production had returned to 1.25 million bpd, the level the OPEC member exempted from the OPEC+ cuts was pumping before the oil port blockade in January 2020. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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