16 September 2013, Tripoli – Libya struggled to resume oil exports, reduced almost to a trickle by protesters, as an attempt of a deal with the government collapsed in the country’s east and uncertainty prevailed over a deal in the west.
The government has been locked in talks with feuding tribes, militia and protester group over the past two months as output collapsed to a tenth of Libya’s maximum capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day.
The stoppages have cost the Libyan government billions of dollars in lost revenues and have contributed to a spike in global prices to a six-month high during August.
Local Libyan media, including Libya Herald, reported over the weekend that protesters in the east, which produces around two thirds of Libyan output, have reached a deal to reopen export terminals from Monday while demanding a number of conditions to be met within three months.
But the spokesman for the protesters denied the reports.
“There is no deal and the port terminals in the east from Es Sider, Ras Lanuf to Brega and Hariga are closed for exports until the protesters demands are met. The government has not responded to our demands,” Osama al-Oreibi told Reuters.
Al-Oreibi is the spokesman for the federalists in the “Brega political office”, headed by Ibrahim al Jathran, who is seeking a bigger role in the oil industry.
Dialogue with protesters in Libya’s west, which produces around a third of its output, looked slightly more positive bit, although government officials said they remained cautious about the prospects of an immediate field reopening.
After weekend negotiations, the government told state National Oil Corp (NOC) that they could expect a major blocked pipeline to resume operations on Monday, a senior Libyan oil official said on Monday.
The pipeline links the El Feel and El Sharara fields in the south to the ports of Mellitah and Zawiya.
The official asked not to be named as he said he still had concerns the deal could de delayed.
“Our people are ready to restart production but we are still waiting for the valves to be reopened. We are waiting for confirmation,” he said.
“It’s supposed to start by the evening, but could happen at any time. This is what we were told by the people doing the negotiations,” he added.