Sharara oilfield reopened after short closure by protests
Libya’s Sharara oil field, which has been producing 270,000 barrels a day (bpd), is gradually shutting down after the closure of a control room in the northern city of Zawiya, an engineer at the field said late on Sunday.
The engineer did not give details of why the control room had closed but posts by oil workers on Facebook said it had been stormed by an armed group.
Libya has been exempted from an OPEC-led push to cut global production and bolster oil prices and the recovery of the North African country’s output over the past year has complicated the bloc’s efforts to curb global supply.
A Libyan oil industry source, who confirmed Sharara was being shut down, said supplies of gasoline and jet fuel from Zawiya, which is home to an export terminal and a refinery, had also been disrupted.
A source at the Zawiya refinery said the plant was working normally but a local shipping source said some protesters in the port had suspended loading operations.
The tanker Dubai Beauty was due to load 750,000 barrels at Zawiya on Tuesday but it was not clear when it would be able to lift the crude, the shipping source said.
There was no immediate comment from the National Oil Corporation (NOC) which operates Sharara in a partnership with Repsol, Total, OMV and Statoil.
Because of the closure of the control room, oil in pipes leading from Sharara to Zawiya will be returned to the field and production will be shut down gradually as empty storage tanks fill up, the engineer said.
Sharara is Libya’s largest field, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s production.
The reopening of the field in December after being shut for two years has been key to a revival in Libya’s oil production, which climbed to more than one million bpd in late June from just over 200,000 bpd a year ago.
Since June, however, Sharara has suffered several brief closures due to pipeline blockades by armed groups and a protest by workers at the field.
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