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Libyan Oilfield Is Offline Again

For the second time in two weeks, Libya’s El Feel oilfield has been shut down, due to an unlawful closure of a valve on an oil export pipeline, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Thursday.

The 73,000-barrels-per-day El Feel field was shut down in the middle of last week due to airstrikes, after the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, retaliated after forces loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government in Tripoli allegedly took control of the oilfield in the southwest.  

“Production will remain shuttered until military activity ceases and all military personnel withdraw from NOC’s area of operations,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said last week after the airstrikes on El Feel.

A day later, military activity at the field stopped and production resumed, NOC said, with Sanalla noting that Libyan oilfields are vital sources of revenues for the country and that the fields “must not be treated as military targets.”  

Referring to today’s interruption of production, Sanalla said that “This is another criminal attempt to disturb the work of NOC and it harms the Libyan economy. We call on the local leaders and authorities in the area to identify the offenders.”

Speaking to reporters at the OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, Sanalla told Reuters: “Unfortunately we lost 73,000 barrel per day today.”

Libya’s oil production was volatile in the spring and summer after Haftar—whose forces control most of Libya’s oilfields—ordered in early April his Libyan National Army to march on the capital Tripoli.

Two outages at the biggest oil field, Sharara, 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.

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Libya’s production stabilized and even increased in September and October—to 1.16 million bpd and 1.167 million bpd, respectively, according to OPEC’s figures. Yet, Libya is exempted from the OPEC+ production cuts due to its fragile security situation.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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