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The relative stability of Libya’s crude oil production and exports from recent months could abruptly end after protests erupted at several key crude terminals, including one that prevented a tanker from loading crude at the biggest oil port.
Protesters at the Es Sider terminal have derailed the loading of a Suezmax tanker, Yannis P, sources familiar with the situation told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
The demonstrators were demanding that the chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla, resign.
The tension among Libya’s top oil officials escalated at the end of last month when Libyan Oil Minister Mohamed Oun said he had suspended NOC’s chairman Sanalla.
In a separate protest, graduates were protesting at the port of Tobruk in eastern Libya, demanding employment, Argus reported on Tuesday, citing Libyan shipping sources.
The closure of the main gate of the Tobruk oil port, which mostly ships oil products, has not affected any tanker arrivals or departures yet. The gate, however, also serves the nearly Marsa el-Hariga terminal, which exports crude oil of the Sarir and Mesla grades.
Exports of the two crudes averaged 221,000 barrels per day (bpd) between June and August, Argus tanker tracking data showed.
The next tanker at either Tobruk or Marsa el-Hariga is due to arrive on Thursday, September 9.
The protests at Libyan oil terminals come at a turbulent time for the oil industry of the OPEC member exempted from the OPEC+ cuts.
The tension between Oun and Sanalla has been growing since Oun was appointed oil minister in March in the government of national unity, which includes a post for an oil minister for the first time in five years.
Libya will struggle to keep its oil production at current levels if the country fails to resolve a long-running dispute over its budget, Oun told Bloomberg last month. The success of Libyan plans to boost oil production remains in jeopardy due to disagreements over the nation’s budget—the first national budget in nearly a decade.
According to secondary sources in OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report, Libya’s crude oil production averaged 1.165 million bpd in July, up from 1.163 million bpd in June.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.