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Libya’s Largest Oil Field to Resume Production After Outage

Production at Libya’s largest oil field is about to restart after a three-week outage, the country’s National Oil Corporation said in a statement.

Protesters shut down the field in early January and said they would not let the NOC reopen it until their demands were met. Said demands focused on job creation for local communities and more infrastructure investment in the region.

The National Oil Corporation declared force majeure on El Sharara several days later.

"The loss of confidence in the continuity of supplying the global market with Libyan oil will result in Libyan oil remaining unmarketed," the Libyan oil ministry said in a statement at the time.

"Closing and reopening the production requires maintenance operations and the treatment of technical problems, as well as a lot of effort, a long time, and a high cost to be borne by the Libyan state treasury”, the ministry added.

El Sharara was producing around 270,000 bpd before the latest outage, which made it the biggest contributor to Libya’s total crude oil output. It has the capacity to pump up to 300,000 bpd.

The field shutdown caused total output to slip below 1 million barrels daily for the first time in months. Oil fields remain vulnerable to protests in Libya as they make for a natural target for protesters who want to drive a message home.

El Sharara is the top target in such circumstances because of its importance to the country’s economy. This time, there was also the additional risk of a refinery closure due to protests in the Oil Crescent.

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The protesters agreed to talk with a mediator to have their demands met before shutting down the Zawya refinery and the Mellitah complex. These demands include addressing corruption and removing the head of the National Oil Corporation, Farahat Bengdara, Reuters reported earlier this month.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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