Libya's largest oil field "back to normal" after disruption

By Salma El Wardany and Saleh Sarrar on 8/7/2017

CAIRO and DUBAI (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s biggest oil field Sharara is “back to normal” after a disruption caused by protests, the country’s National Oil Corp. said.

Pumping was interrupted for “hours” due to armed protesters shutting some facilities, the NOC said Monday in a statement. NOC didn’t give an updated figure on production at the field or explain what caused the protests or who they represent. The field in western Libya was producing 275,000 bpd as of July 12, a person with knowledge of the situation said at the time.

Sharara, operated by a joint venture between Libya’s state producer and Repsol SA, Total SA, OMV AG and Statoil ASA, has witnessed several brief shut downs caused by different groups. The field was closed for two days in June due to a protest by workers at the field.

Libya’s crude output and exports reached a fresh three-year high last month as fighting among armed militias abated and leaders of the country’s rival administrations agreed in principal on steps to unite the nation. The recovery in the country holding Africa’s largest crude reserves makes it harder for OPEC and allied oil-producing nations to curb a global supply surplus that’s depressing prices for crude. 

The North African producer shipped about 865,000 bpd of crude in July, tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show. That was a gain of 11% from June, which was already the highest since at least July 2014.

The speed at which Libya can revive crude sales is critical for the oil market because, together with Nigeria, the nation wasn’t bound by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries supply restrictions that helped limit output this year. OPEC extended the cuts accord, and Libya’s exemption from it, through March 2018.

Libya slid into chaos after the armed uprising that toppled and killed former strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with myriad armed groups and two administrations vying for control of the country’s energy facilities. Its rival leaders -- Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar -- agreed last month on a cease-fire, combining the country’s divided oil company and armed forces, and elections as soon as possible.

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