First Tanker Docks after Libya's Strike


By MarEx 2015-02-12 14:23:30

An oil tanker has docked at Libya's port of Hariga for the first time since security guards ended a strike this week and a storm passed, a port official said on Thursday.

Authorities managed earlier this week to persuade security guards to end a strike over delayed salary payments, keeping Libya's only functional onshore oil export port open. A storm then further delayed the terminal's reopening.

Greek-registered Minerva Zoe, which had been waiting to dock for a week, would start loading 725,000 barrels of oil soon, the official said, asking not to be identified. The tanker was bound for Italy.

Another tanker importing 25,000 tons to Libya had also arrived, he said. Apart from being the last operating onshore export port, Hariga, located in the eastern city of Tobruk, has also become the main eastern port to import fuel.

Benghazi's commercial port has been closed for months due to fighting between pro-government forces and Islamist groups. The delay of the fuel tanker had caused petrol shortages in eastern Libya. Petrol stations in Benghazi and other eastern cities were closed on Thursday.

Hariga tends to export around 120,000 barrels per day (bpd), bringing in much needed oil revenues, the only source for the budget.

Brega port is still open but it is used to supply the 120,000 bpd Zawiya refinery with crude. All other ports and most oilfields have shut down due to fighting nearby or pipeline blockages by rival factions.

Oil production has fallen to around 350,000 barrels a day, a fraction of the 1.6 million bpd Libya used to pump before the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya is in the middle of a power struggle between two competing governments and parliaments. The internationally- recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni fled to the east when a faction called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August, reinstating the old parliament and setting up a rival administration.

The closure of Benghazi's port has also led to shortages of drugs, wheat and other food and consumer products. Prices have gone up in recent months.

Adding to the hardship of normal people tired of fighting between armed groups, the capital Tripoli and other major cities were hit by power cuts of eight hours or longer. Officials have blamed a slump in oil and gas production as well as a disruption of the grid due to the country's instability.

Copyright Reuters 2015.