Reuters

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) – A blockade on production at Libya’s Sharara oil field, the country’s largest, was lifted on Tuesday after it shut down output for more than two weeks, a Libyan oil source said.

A valve on a pipeline leading from the field that was closed during the shutdown has reopened, though it was not clear how quickly production would resume at the field itself, the oil source said.

There was no immediate comment from the National Oil Corporation (NOC) nor detail about how the blockade had been lifted. An engineer at the field said it had not yet restarted pumping.

The southwestern field had been producing around 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) until an armed group closed a valve on the pipeline between Sharara and the port of Zawiya on Aug. 19.

Sharara resumed production in December after a two-year pipeline blockade and has been key to a recovery of Libya’s national output to about 1 million bpd, about four times its mid-2016 level.

But the field has suffered repeated temporary shutdowns this year because of protests and the activity of armed groups around the field and along the pipeline leading north.

The NOC had blamed the latest Sharara shutdown on a rogue militia which it said was also responsible for closures at El Feel and Hamada fields. El Feel and Hamada were subsequently reopened.

The NOC said it had referred the names of two militia leaders to Libya’s general prosecutor over the shutdowns. The armed group was trying to secure the release of a relative jailed for alleged kidnapping in Tripoli, according to industry sources.

The NOC runs Sharara in a joint venture with oil companies Repsol, Total, Statoil and OMV.

(Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar, Ayman al-Warfalli and Aidan Lewis; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams and Sandra Maler)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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