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Three Oil Tankers Loaded at Libyan Port

Aframax tanker

By MarEx 2015-03-11 19:14:47

Oil and condensate have been exported at least three times from the Libyan port of Mellitah since the start of this month, according to industry sources and ship-tracking data, a surprise move with other terminals in the west of the country largely shut.

The North African OPEC member is split between two rival governments, each allied to heavily armed groups that have been fighting for control of the oil-producing nation since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Mellitah port, not far from Libya's western border with Tunisia, is jointly operated by Italian energy major ENI and the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) and lies in territory largely controlled by a rival government that seized the capital Tripoli last summer.

Mellitah normally exports supplies of condensate from the Wafa field, which previously produced around 30,000 barrels per day. It was not possible to confirm if it is still operational.

Three Aframax tankers, each capable of carrying around 700,000 barrels of oil, have departed Mellitah since March 3. One is currently sailing to Spanish energy firm Repsol's Coruna refinery, ship-tracking data showed, while another has delivered its cargo into storage at the Egyptian terminal of Sidi Kerir.

Traders said the shipments were likely a combination of crude oil from storage and condensate—a lighter type of oil generally produced as a by-product of gas extraction.

A third tanker has been lifted by Austrian energy company OMV according to ship-tracking data. The company declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Wednesday.

Tankers have been carrying out loadings at the eastern ports of Zueitina and Hariga in the past two weeks, which are controlled by forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government.

The rival government in Tripoli has loose control of the other ports through armed factions aligned with it.

The Libyan NOC last week declared force majeure on 11 of its oilfields in the center of the country due to the deteriorating security situation after several oil installations came under attack, including one raid that saw foreign workers abducted by Islamic State and security guards beheaded. Others continue to operate, though most oil firms have largely removed foreign workers.

"Eni has not declared force majeure at Mellitah," a spokesman for the company said on Wednesday.

NOC has not published a national production figure, which oil insiders put at about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), a fraction of the up to 1.6 million bpd Libya pumped prior to the 2011 uprising.

Copyright Reuters 2015.