Libyan output falls

Libyan protesters17 February 2014, News Wires – Libya’s oil production has fallen to 390,000 barrels per day, some 70,000 bpd less than last week, as protests have partly blocked flows from the El Sharara oilfield.

Reuters cited National Oil Company, NOC, spokesman Mohamed El Harari as saying production had slipped to 390,000 bpd. On Thursday output was 460,000 bpd.

He said the El Sharara oilfield was below its capacity of 340,000 bpd because protesters partially shut down a pipeline near the western town of Zintan leading from the field to the port of Zawiya.

“We hope the government will solve the problem soon,” he said. Output at the El Sharara field had been at 301,000 bpd on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Harari said the El Wafa oilfield was again working normally after protesters had on Wednesday shut gas and oil pipelines from the field, which produces about 30,000 bpd of very light oil condensate.

NOC has not published export figures recently but the state-run company normally uses about 140,000 bpd of national production to feed refineries in Zawiya and Tobruk.

The demands of protesters were not immediately clear. Tensions in the country are growing over the country’s interim General National Congress, whose mandate has officially ended, but whose members have extended its term to guarantee stability.

Political blocks in the Congress are deadlocked over how to proceed with the fragile transition to democracy.

Rival brigades of former rebels and militias are loosely aligned with competing factions within the Congress, with some demanding its dissolution and new elections, and others supporting its extension.

Armed protesters led by a former anti-Gaddafi rebel have seized three oil ports in eastern Libya since August, cutting off about 600,000 bpd of export capacity, to demand more regional autonomy and a greater share of oil wealth.

Negotiations to end that blockade have gone nowhere, and the government has warned it could resort to force to break the protest that has cost the state more than $7 billion in lost oil revenues.

Armed groups, former rebels and tribes often shut down pipelines or occupy oilfields to make demands on the state as Libya tries to overcome instability nearly three years after a Nato-backed revolt toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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