Libya’s oil production is declining after the closure of two major fields

CAIRO – Libya’s National Oil Company said on Sunday that an armed group had shut down two major oil fields, cutting daily oil production by 330,000 barrels.

The State National Petroleum Corporation said the group closed pump valves at the Sharara field, the largest in Libya, and El Feel, effectively halting production in both areas. Prior to the closure in Libya, oil production was about 1.2 billion barrels per day.

Company head Mustafa Sanala has announced force majeure, a legal maneuver that allows the company to withdraw from contracts due to emergencies.

He said the closure cost Libya more than $ 160 million ($ 34.6 million) on the day of the loss of revenue.

Sanala said the NAC called on prosecutors to “take deterrence” and disclose “planners, performers and beneficiaries” of the shutdown. The same police disrupted oil production at both fields in 2014 and 2016, he added.

An oil spokesman in the capital, Tripoli, said the militiamen who had closed the fields were from the mountain town of Zintan, about 136 kilometers (more than 84 miles) southwest of Tripoli.

Tribal leaders in the area have been negotiating with militia leaders to allow oil production to resume, said the official, who said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to inform the media.

The closure came after the Russian invasion of Ukraine shook world markets, causing oil prices to rise above $ 115 a barrel.

Libya has the ninth largest known oil reserves in the world and the largest oil reserves in Africa.

The dizzying events in Libya’s oil fields took place amid growing confrontation between the two rival governments, which threaten to drag the country back into a chaotic struggle.

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