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Libya's Oil Losses Mount On Pipeline Leak

Libya is losing another 22,000 barrels per day due to a pipeline leak at the Sarir Tobruk oilfield blamed on delayed budgets that have left the operating company unable to maintain its oil transmission infrastructure, according to local media reports.

Some 22,000 barrels per day are now leaking into the desert from damages to the pipeline, which links the Sarir Tobruk oilfield to a terminal in the port of Tobruk. 

The leak began on Tuesday and was reported to the operating company, Libyan Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) on Wednesday. AGOCO is owned by the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC). On its Facebook page, AGOCO released video footage of the oil leaking into the desert. 

With two rival governments, Libya has been unable to overcome a standoff that has seen some 380,000 barrels per day of oil taken offline over anti-government protests. 

In mid-April, Libya declared force majeure on its 300,000 bpd Al Sharara oilfield–the country’s largest–and was also forced to take oil offline at the 70,000 bpd El Feel oilfield. 

In February, the eastern-backed parliament in Tobruk named Fathi Bashagha as the new prime minister, while his rival, incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, has refused to step down. Earlier this month, Bashaga attempted to resume the role of prime minister in the capital, Tripoli, but was forced out after clashes between his militia security forces and those of Dbeibah. 

Bashaga has now set up his government in Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s Oil Crescent. 

Last week, prior to the desert leak, Libyan Oil Minister Mohamed Aoun told Argus that the country’s output was now around 750,000 barrels per day, representing a 40% decline from the first quarter of this year. 

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Protesters are demanding a more equitable distribution of oil revenues between east and west. Until either a power-sharing deal between the rival governments and a new deal is reached on oil revenue distribution, oil production will remain stifled, with Bashaga’s forces nominally controlling the Oil Crescent, and Tripoli controlling the Central Bank. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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