Tanker to Libya's biggest oil port diverted to avoid conflict

By Salma El Wardany on 3/9/2017

CAIRO (Bloomberg) -- An oil tanker that was scheduled to load crude at Libya’s Es Sider port changed its course to a different terminal in the west of the country as clashes in the eastern region keep the main export terminals out of service. Waha Oil halted production due to the conflict.

The tanker Overseas Redwood, originally due to load 630,000 bbl of crude at Es Sider on Thursday, will arrive instead at the port of Zawiya, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Production from Waha Oil, a joint venture between the state oil company National Oil Corp., Hess Corp., Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips, is now suspended as key ports have been closed for almost a week, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Libya’s total crude output remains unchanged at 671,000 bpd as increases in production from other companies, including Arabian Gulf Oil, have countered the decline from Waha’s fields, Jadalla Alaokali, a board member at the NOC said.

Militia Group

The Petroleum Facilities Guard, a United Nations-backed force, said Tuesday it took control of oil installations at Es Sider, the country’s biggest oil port, and Ras Lanuf, its third-largest, following their capture by a militia group called the Benghazi Defense Brigades earlier this month. The ports had previously been controlled by eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The North African nation has sought to boost crude exports after fighting among rival militias hobbled oil production following the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Al Qaddafi. The conflict showed signs of calming in recent months, and oil output rose to about 700,000 bpd in February from 260,000 bpd in August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s still well below the 1.6 MMbpd that Libya pumped before Qaddafi’s ouster.

Waha Oil has a capacity of more than 300,000 bpd, according to the NOC website. Its production dropped by half to 40,000 bpd, two people familiar with the matter, said March 5.

Ship-tracking data show the Overseas Redwood sailing westward toward Zawiya after it signaled the terminal at Brega, near Es Sider, at the time it changed course. Another tanker, Amalthea, changed its destination on Tuesday to load at Brega instead of Es Sider.

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