Unrest cuts Libya oil output to lowest level since Jan 2012-officials
BY BENOIT FAUCON
LONDON -- Unrest has cut Libya' s oil production to its lowest level since January 2012, when the country was still recovering from its civil war, top Libyan oil officials said Monday.
The disclosure comes after clashes left 31 people dead over the weekend in the eastern city of Benghazi, underlining the security chaos in Libya.
"It' s the lowest production since January 2012. About 1.35 million barrels [a day] today," Libya' s deputy oil minister Omar Shakmak told The Wall Street Journal. The country pumped an average of 1.18 MMbopd in January 2012.
Monday, Libya' s oil minister Abdel-Bari al-Arousi said recent protests and sit-ins had led to a drop in production. "The effects [of unrest] are so severe it has reduced the production rate to its lowest level," he said, according to the website of Libya' s National Oil Co., or NOC. "If they continue their sit-ins, power supply to some areas is likely to stop, as a result of the lower production."
In the most recent development, Libya' s El Feel oil field--run by a joint venture between NOC and Italy' s Eni --was forced to shut on May 30 for a few hours as a result of a protest by security guards. Demonstrations by locals at the Zueitina oil terminal also interrupted loadings from the port for several weeks last month.
Libya has struggled with unrest since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was deposed in the civil war in late 2011. An estimated 31 people died over the weekend in Benghazi after protesters stormed a base belonging to militias. The protesters were demanding that the militias leave their camp and submit to the full authority of Libya' s security forces.
Libya' s army chief of staff resigned on Sunday following the tragedy as an elite military unit took control of a base of pro-government militias.
The episode comes after an attack against the U.S. consulate in the same city last year killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. But the clash over the week-end hasn' t led to any pullout of staff, foreign companies, including Eni, said Monday.
Ilan Brat in Madrid, Liam Moloney in Rome, Geraldine Amiel in Paris and Nicole Lundeen in Vienna contributed to this report.
Dow Jones Newswires