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Oil Workers At Libya’s Largest Field Want Salary Hikes

Sharara oil field

Oil workers at Sharara, the largest field in Libya which has recently re-opened after a three-month hiatus, have demanded a salary increase of 67 percent as they try to return oil production at the site to its normal 315,000-bpd production rate, Reuters reported on Monday, citing a video that the workers have posted.

The government decided to raise the salaries by 67 percent back in 2013, but the raise never materialized, while Sharara continues to suffer from frequent closures due to armed groups occupying it.

According to Reuters, workers at two other oil fields in Libya are also demanding a salary increase by two thirds.

Libya’s internationally recognized National Oil Corporation (NOC) supports the salary hike demands, saying that oil workers continue to work under extremely difficult circumstances, adding that it was disappointing that a salary increase has not been included in Libyan government’s budget for this year.

In early March, the Sharara oil field returned to operations after being closed for production in December, when clashes between militant groups forced NOC to institute a force majeure.

Sharara has been one of the main reasons the North African country is widely seen as a wild card in global oil price forecasts. Since it accounts for around a third of the country’s total oil output, Sharara, like the export terminals in the Oil Crescent, has become a natural target for various groups vying for power and control over Libya’s oil wealth.

As of last week, Libya’s oil production was 1.2 million bpd according to Tripoli-based finance minister Faraj Bomtar, and a further increase is expected in the coming days. Sharara was said to be pumping 270,000 bpd as of March 19.

While rising production at Sharara could boost Libyan oil production and revenues, security issues and frequent outages at the field and at other Libyan facilities and ports make market observers and OPEC cautious about predicting supply from the country.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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