By Gabriel Harrison.
Tunis, 28 August 2017:
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) has now been forced to declare force majeure in relation to the Sharara and El-Fil oilfields in the Murzuk Basin and the Hamada field further north in the Ghadames Basin. Production is now suspended at all three because valves on the pipelines from them to the oil refinery and terminal at Zawia and to the Mellitah Oil and Gas complex have again been closed at Reyayna, near Zintan. It has cut over 300,000 barrels of oil a day from national production.
Production at Zawia refinery is said to have at least halved as a result. One report says it is down by almost two-thirds.
The valves at Reyayna were closed by the same Zintani group of petroleum facilities guards led by Ashraf Al-Gurj that have done so on more than one occasion in the past, again in a bid to force the authorities to give them money. Gurj is reportedly demanding the NOC ensure better economic conditions in Zintan and that NOC chairman Mustata Sanalla go there and negotiate a deal.
There are reports, though, that Gurj’s real motive is to secure the release of his cousin Usama al-Gurj who is supposedly being held by Rada (“Deterrence”) forces in Tripoli amid allegations of smuggling.
The El-Fil (“Elephant”) field which has a capacity of 130,000 b/d is operated by Italy’s Eni.
Sharara, the largest oil field in Libya with a capacity of 330,000 b/d, was reported to have been producing 280,000 b/d. It is operated by Akakas oil, a joint venture between NC and Spanish oil company Repsol, with France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Statoil of Norway having smaller stakes.
The Hamada fields, producing some 8,000 b/d are oerpated by Benghazi-based AGOCO.
These closures are a major blow to NOC’s efforts to raise Libyan oil output. It has been at around 1 million b/d in recent weeks.