By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 25 March 2014:
Production at the massive El Fil field west of Murzuk has come . . .[restrict]to a virtual stop, not because of action by local Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) unsatisfied with government policy and demanding better pay, as rumoured, but because of a valve on the pipeline network being turned off.
We stopped producing because the pressure in the system was increasing,” said Abdul Fattah Bani, head manager at the El Fil field. “That was because one of the pipelines was blocked somewhere up in the Jebel Nafusa”, he told the Libya Herald.
The stoppage was on Monday.
“El Fil told us about the pressure, asking us to find out where the problem was and which pipe was blocked,” a senior official at Mellitah Oil said. “We’ve started to look to find out which valve [has been turned off] but we’ve not located it yet.”
The massive field west of Murzuk, run by Mellitah, a joint venture between the NOC and Italy’s Eni, is capable of producing 130,000 barrels a day. According to officials at the field, however, production was running at 84,000 b/d before the latest stoppage.
Production has been disrupted at the field several times since the revolution. It restarted last September after a two-week closure because an armed group, reportedly from Zintan, closed a pipeline valve. It was earlier closed for several weeks as a result of a dispute with mainly Tebu workers over salaries and other benefits.
The field is still producing a small amount, Bani said, to power the nearby Sharara oil field.
Refuting reports that the PFG were behind the stoppage, Hassan Kashiyani, the deputy commander of the guard at El Fil, said that everything was normal there as far as security was concerned. “We’re doing our job normally and have no problems.”