Libya’s key oilfield Sharara shut once again after short reopening

Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation, greets guards at Sharara oil field near Ubari, Libya, July 6, 2017. [REUTERS/Aidan Lewis]
Libya’s biggest oil field, where production has been disrupted for the past three days, shut again after briefly reopening Tuesday.

Authorities discovered a closed valve on the pipeline linking the Sharara oil field to the Zawiya port, according to Wessam Al-Messmari, an office manager for the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which is protecting the conduit. While details as to the cause of the closure weren’t immediately clear, a security force is investigating the matter and plans to reopen the line, he said by phone.

Earlier Tuesday the state-run National Oil Corp. announced the restart of the Sharara field and the lifting of force majeure, a legal status protecting a party from liability if it can’t fulfill a contract for reasons beyond its control, on crude exports from the Zawiya terminal. The NOC later removed the statement from its website.

Sharara has experienced several brief shutdowns caused by different groups this year. The oil field closed for two days in June due to a protest by workers. Pumping was interrupted for several hours earlier this month after armed protesters shut some facilities. Production was 230,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the situation said at the time.

Libya is trying to revive its oil production and exports in the midst of continuing political uncertainty. In July, crude production was at a four-year high and exports were the most in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While the expansion has helped Libya’s oil-dependent economy, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is trying to cut global supplies. That effort has been weakened by recovering output by OPEC members Libya and Nigeria.

The estimated the value of lost oil production during the past three days is about $40 million, according to the NOC.

(Source: Reuters)

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