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Libya fails to restart El Sharara oilfield due to blocked pipeline

Libya abandoned an attempt to restart production at the El Sharara oil field, one of the country's biggest, after a pipeline blockage, state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said.

The field, which used to pump at least 200,000 barrels a day, was caught up in the country's political strife when gunmen forced a production shutdown last week.

Workers at the field and some Libyan blogs say tribesmen supporting an armed group controlling the capital Tripoli took over the field, expelling a rival group from Zintan, which was guarding it.

The fighting is part of a wider struggle in the Opec producer where two competing governments and parliaments allied to various armed groups and factions are jostling for political control and energy resources three years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Reports from a Libyan industry source said the pipeline leading to the Zawiya port had been blocked in Zintan territory. The Zintanis are allied to Prime Minister Abdullah Al Thinni whose cabinet had to move to the east after it lost control of Tripoli.

NOC spokesman Mohamed El Harari said production at the El Sharara field, located deep in the southern desert, had been shut due to a blockage but the reasons were unclear. He gave no more information.

The field operator, run by NOC and Spain's Repsol, had restarted wells at 1100 local time, he said earlier.

The failed restart also means that the neighbouring El Feel field, co-operated by Italy's Eni, will remain shut.

In another setback for authorities a protest at the eastern Hariga port continued. State oil guards had gone on protest late last week to press for salary payments.

The closure of the two fields and the port means that output has fallen to 500,000 bpd or less, according to Reuters calculations based on previous data. NOC has not published an output update for a month. -- Reuters

Published on:
November 13, 2014
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