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Libya's Biggest Oilfield Halts All Work After Employee Tests Covid Positive

Libya's largest oilfield, Sharara, is stopping all operations, and the operator is evacuating the workers as a foreign employee had tested positive for the coronavirus after coming into contact with the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Monday.

Sharara has not produced oil since January, when forces affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar occupied Libya's oil export terminals and oilfields.

Early in June, NOC resumed production at the 300,000-bpd Sharara oilfield after negotiating the opening of an oilfield valve. Just a day later, however, Sharara shuttered again, after an armed force had told the workers in the field to stop working.  

Sharara now stops all operations, including fuel supplies to the Obari power plant, NOC said today, expressing "its strong dissatisfaction with the continued militarization of its fields" after the commander of the southern region, Al-Mabrouk Sahban, entered the Sharara oilfield by force on Saturday.  

"In a second instance of the PFG's disregard for measures to counter the coronavirus, on Sunday August 30, 2020, one of the foreign employees working in the field tested positive for the coronavirus as a result of his contact with members of the PFG. This is due to their permanent and uncontrolled presence in the field's workshop for the maintenance and repair of their vehicles," NOC said.

"The Akakus administration is evacuating the field and will completely stop all its operations, which will result in the suspension of fuel supplies to the Obari power plant, in addition to the potential theft and looting of the field," NOC's chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement.

Libya's conflict continues, preventing oil production and exports from the African OPEC member. Last week, Haftar's forces rejected the ceasefire announced two days earlier by the UN-backed government of Libya and the east-based rival administration, dismissing the proposal for truce as a "marketing" stunt.

By Charles Kennedy For Oilprice.com

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