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Libyan Navy Intercepts Oil Tanker On Smuggling Allegations

The Libyan navy detained 20 Filipino crew members near Tunisian waters after intercepting their oil tanker, according to official sources that spoke to The Libya Observer.

Spokesman Atounb Qassam said the navy captured the vessel in the Abu Kammash area off the west coast of Tripoli on allegations that the fuel was being smuggled. All members of the crew have been transferred to Tripoli for further interrogations.

The Greek vessel was an oil tanker carrying 6 million liters of fuel, but its grade and original extraction location is still unknown.

Libya has been experiencing a setback in production over the past week as the return of domestic conflict causes two major oilfields to go offline. The Sharara field—Libya’s largest—stopped pumping oil a week ago, after a militant group seized control of the pipeline that feeds crude from it to the Zawiya export terminal, and is still idle as of today.

In addition to 270,000-bpd Sharara, El Feel—which pumped over 26,000 bpd in April—has also stopped production, a source from the Petroleum Facilities Guard that controls security at the field told Bloomberg. The National Oil Corporation has declared force majeure for the field, and for another one as well, the Hamada, said a spokesman for Arabia Gulf Oil Co, due to a blockade on the pipelines carrying oil from the two fields.

Related: Dear Millennials, Big Oil Is Not Your Enemy

Earlier this year, in April, Sharara and El Feel both stopped pumping after an armed group blocked the pipeline from Sharara—the bigger field supplies electricity to El Feel. Since then, Sharara has been the target of several additional attacks that have led to output suspensions.

Despite the disruptions, crude oil is down, with Brent trading at $51.97 a barrel at the time of this article’s writing, down 0.44 percent, and WTI at $46.71, down 1.16 percent.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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