By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 29 August,2013:
Libyan oil production is down to 250,000 barrels a day according to the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. . . .[restrict]Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Tripoli, he said in a bid to return to full production the government was negotiating with elders and leaders in eastern Libya to get oil terminals reopened.
The terminals at Ras Lanuf, Brega, Zueitina, Sidra and Tobruk have been closed by industrial action and blockades by Petroleum Facilities Guards since the end of July. With tanks full, the closure of the terminals has brought most production in the east – around a million barrels a day – to a stop. However, it was announced last week that exports were being resumed at Brega.
The reason for the latest drop is that on Wednesday, armed groups in western Libya shut down the pipelines of Sharara, El-Fil (Elephant) and Hamada oil fields. The El-Fil field only re-started production a fortnight ago after being closed for weeks by an industrial dispute.
There is some confusion over the figures.
The Deputy Oil Minister, Omar Shakmak, has told the Libya Herald that the pipeline closure had resulted in a loss of 320,000 – 340,000 b/d. Up until the beginning of the week, Libyan production had been 640,000 b/d, he said.
There is a difference of 50,000 b/d between the Prime Minister’s figures and those of the Deputy Oil Minister.
Oil officials point out that there are no problems in the oil fields at present, only at the terminals. “Production has stopped because the storage tanks are full as a result of the terminal blockades”, an official at AGOCO said today.
Claims that militias from Zintan and some other towns in the Jebel Nafusa were involved in the closure of the pipelines in protest against the government have been confirmed by the head of Zintan Local Council, Mohamed Wakwak. However, other were involved as well and the council was opposed to the action.
“The protesters are not just from Zintan. And there are some members of the Petroleum Facilities Guards involved,” Wakak told the Libya Herald.
“We have told the protesters that the council is against closing the oil fields because oil is the only income of the Libyans”, he said.