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A tanker had to leave Libya’s Hariga export terminal without oil after members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard stopped the vessel from loading crude amid an ongoing strike over delayed salary payments, a source with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg on Monday.
In just a few months, Libya has managed to restore its oil production back to 1.25 million bpd, the level the OPEC member exempted from the OPEC+ cuts was pumping before the eighth-month-long oil port blockade in January 2020.
However, the North African oil producer has struggled to keep that level over the past month due to strikes from the Petroleum Facilities Guard over unpaid salaries and the lack of funds for restoration and maintenance of Libya’s oil infrastructure.
According to Bloomberg’s source, the Front Cruiser tanker of the Suezmax type had to leave the port of Hariga without loading oil because of the strike of the security guards.
In early January, petroleum facilities guards at the Hariga oil port in eastern Libya also delayed the loading of at least one crude oil cargo and were threatening to block exports until their demands to be paid their salaries are met.
Disruption to Libyan crude exports could be bullish for oil prices, if it is on a larger scale, because the faster-than-expected increase in Libyan oil production was already giving OPEC and its allies in the OPEC+ group another issue to discuss at their monthly meetings, on top of the outlook for oil demand early in 2021.
The recovering production in Libya, however, has seen disruptions over the past month. The country was producing slightly less in January compared to December, the monthly Reuters survey found at the end of January. A leak that forced the shutdown of an oil pipeline reduced Libyan oil production by as much as 200,000 bpd for a week, while the Petroleum Facilities Guard briefly shut down the Hariga oil port after the National Oil Corporation delayed the payment of salaries for its members.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com