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Libyan oil production and exports are set to drop again after two export terminals were blocked on Thursday, and protesters threatened on Friday to close another oil port.
Groups of protesters closed the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil export terminals on Thursday, demanding a transfer of powers from Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has been refusing to step down for newly sworn-in eastern Prime Minister Fathi Bashaga. The Parliament-backed Bashagha has the support from eastern Libya and its east-based parliament, while Dbeibah is based in Tripoli. The Parliament voted in Bashaga for prime minister earlier this year, but Dbeibah has refused to step down.
The political rift, also because of the distribution of oil revenues, has already crippled Libyan production and exports in April and May.
Libya’s largest oilfield, Sharara, restarted oil production this weekend following weeks of shutdown over protests, but was closed again just a day after reopening.
The blockades are now spreading to the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals, while a group threatened to close the Hariga port on Friday, engineers told Reuters on Friday.
According to analysts and diplomats who spoke to Reuters, the blockades of oil ports have been mostly instigated by factions in the east, including eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) he leads.
According to Reuters estimates, Libya’s oil production had already halved to around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May, after the Sharara and El Feel oilfields were closed and added to other blockaded oil infrastructure in the country.
The resumption of mass oil port blockades in the wild-card OPEC producer exempted from the OPEC+ deal comes at a time of a tight global market, bans on Russian oil in the West, and robust global demand in the summer driving season despite record-high fuel prices.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com