Libya's Oil Exports Surge on Western Output, East Still Shut
Libya's crude oil exports have risen above 580,000 barrels per day after western fields reopened this month but oil export facilities in the east remain closed by protesters, a senior oil official said on Friday.
Libyan oil production is now averaging about 650,000 bpd, National Oil Corp (NOC) official Belgasem Shengeer said, or more than 40 percent of its prewar output of 1.6 million barrels bpd.
A combination of strikes, militias and political activists have blocked the majority of Libya's oilfields and ports since the end of July and the government's fledgling army and police force has struggled to deal with armed protesters.
The worst disruption since the 2011 war has already cost Western companies and the Libyan government, which relies heavily on oil revenues, billions of dollars in lost income.
Libya took its first steps towards restarting output from the west of the country in mid-September after reaching a deal with local groups, lifting its force majeure on the export terminals of Mellitah and Zawiya on Sept. 17.
But Shengeer said oil facilities in the east, which include the large export terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, remained closed for the time being.
"There is no change in the eastern area," he said, adding the NOC was not involved in resolving the shutdown which is being dealt with by a special crisis committee.
A member of Libya's parliamentary energy committee told Reuters earlier this week that there were signs of progress in talks in the far east to reopen the oil port of Hariga soon.
Shengeer said on Friday that port remained shut.
But in the west, exports have resumed apace with a number of tankers loading or fixed to load from Zawiya and Mellitah.
"You may sometimes see output fall by 50,000 barrels or so (bpd) but that is related to fixtures and storage issues. Overall it has stabilised at about 650,000 barrels," he said.
Shengeer said Libya was able to export slightly more oil than it might otherwise expect because one of two units at Zawiya's 120,000 bpd refinery was in maintenance.
Libya's second largest refinery began an 18-day maintenance on Sunday. About 60,000-70,000 bpd is going to the refinery which at the height of the crisis had relied on exports diverted to Brega.
By Lin Noueihed (C) Reuters 2013.