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Libya’s eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar is boosting his military presence around the country’s largest oil field, Sharara in southern Libya, fearing that an attack on the oil field by rival militias could kick the eastern Libyan forces out of the oil infrastructure they currently control.
Haftar-affiliated forces, with a convoy of 75 military vehicles, arrived at the Sharara oil field on Monday, The Libya Observer reported, quoting a military source as telling local media outlets.
According to The Libya Observer, the forces loyal to Haftar are concerned that a rival army, the South Protection Force of the government of national accord, could kick the eastern-affiliated forces out of oil fields.
The security situation in Libya has materially worsened since the spring after Haftar ordered in early April his Libyan National Army (LNA) to march on the capital Tripoli. The self-styled army has been clashing with troops of the UN-backed government in a renewed confrontation that has escalated and disrupted, once again, Libya’s oil production and exports.
The latest in a series of force majeures at Sharara was lifted on August 8.
The field had stopped producing on July 19 after an unidentified group had shut down a pipeline valve, according to a statement from Libya’s NOC at the time. Production was resumed and the force majeure lifted on July 22, but yet another pipeline valve was closed on July 31, triggering another force majeure.
Sharara has a capacity of 340,000 barrels per day, but prior to the most recent force majeure, the field had been pumping at a rate of 290,000 barrels per day.
After production at Sharara resumed earlier this month, it has now reached some 295,000 bpd, a source with knowledge of the output told Reuters yesterday.
The two outages in one month forced Libya’s oil production down to below 1 million bpd in the first week of August—the lowest level in five months and a sign of Libya’s wild card status in terms of production consistency.
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.