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Two Libya Oil Ports to Reopen After Forced Shutdowns

By MarEx 2013-07-08 08:37:00

An agreement has been reached with security guards who had shut down two oil ports in eastern Libya, allowing exports to resume, an official present at the negotiations said on Sunday.

Members of the security forces guarding Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports had shut them down in the last few days after they demanded better work conditions, said Saad Benshrada, a member of the energy committee within Libya's national assembly.

Es Sider, Libya's main crude oil export terminal, was shut down on Thursday night, while Ras Lanuf portwas closed soon after, oil industry sources said.

"There was a meeting in Brega between representatives of the groups that closed down the ports, the oil ministry and others," Benshrada told Reuters upon arrival in Tripoli from Brega, which lies in eastern Libya.

"The meeting was long but after we reached an agreement, the guards gave instructions to allow workers to resume export operations."

Ras Lanuf is a large complex in eastern Libya that includes the North African country's biggest refinery and a separate port. Several fields belonging to the Harouge oil company pump oil to the port. Es Sider exports light sweet Es Sider crude oil produced by the Waha consortium, which has a capacity of around 350,000 barrels per day.

"The same thing that happened at Es Sider terminal happened at Ras Lanuf," a senior Libyan oil industry source said earlier, adding the refinery had not been affected by the protest.

Libyan oil facilities are under the guard of a special force that operates under the remit of the Defence Ministry.

However, only about 2,000 of its 15,000 members have had training from the military. The rest are former rebels who fought to oust Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 war.

Lacking proper training and equipment, its members have at times fought amongst themselves or caused disruptions.

The shutdowns were the latest in a string of disruptions hampering Libya's return to pre-war crude output levels of around 1.6 million barrels per day.

Several oilfields have been shut down in the last few weeks due to worker protests, cutting output by around one-third.

Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ghaith Shennib; additional reporting by Julia Payne in London; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Matthew Lewis (C) Reuters 2013.