Libya’s 90,000 b/d Elephant oil field has been shut since early Friday
due to protests by local tribes and guards, sources said Friday.

State-owned National Oil Corporation had been holding emergency talks
this week with Tubu tribesmen — who were demanding more regular fuel
supplies to their region — to prevent the field’s closure.

But the situation worsened and the field was shut Friday morning as the
guards protecting the field walked out after a dispute over payments.

Sources said production at the field was around 72,000 b/d on Thursday

A spokesman at the NOC was unavailable for comment.

There was an evacuation of nonessential staff Thursday at the key
southwestern field, but production was unaffected, a source close to the
NOC said.

The Elephant field, also known as El-Feel, is operated by Mellitah Oil
and Gas, a joint venture of NOC and Italy’s Eni.

Crude from El-Feel and Sharara is pumped in to the 120,000 b/d Zawiya
refinery and export terminal. Although the Elephant field had been able
to produce around 90,000 b/d before Libya’s revolution in 2011, output
has been volatile the last few years due to protests and deteriorating
security in the southern region.

The Tubu are an ethnic minority in Libya, hailing from the south of the
country and its southern neighbors, and have long complained of being
economically and politically marginalized, both under the Gadhafi regime
and post-revolution governments.

Libya produced around 980,000 b/d in January, according to the latest S&P
Global Platts survey of OPEC producers. That is well below the 1.6
million b/d it produced before Gadhafi’s overthrow in 2011.

Production has since fluctuated due to disruptions from frequent protests
and security threats, as well as a lack of finance.

–Eklavya Gupte with Staff Reports,

–Edited by Jason Lindquist,

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