Africa Oil & Gas: Libya’s Largest Oil Field Restarts After Armed Protests

A general view of the El Sharara oilfield, Libya

A general view of the El Sharara oilfield, Libya December 3, 2014.Ismail Zitouny/File Photo

Libya’s largest oil field, Sharara, is resuming normal operations after a brief shutdown caused by a militant attack on the control room in the port city of Zawiya, where crude from Sharara flows.

Reuters had reported earlier, quoting an engineer from the field’s staff, that the field would gradually shut down, while Facebook posts by oil workers had suggested the reason for the shutdown was militant activity.

Sharara pumps about 270,000 bpd and its restart last December has been key to Libya’s oil output growth, which different sources estimate at between 990,000 bpd and over 1 million bpd as of last month. The field supplies around a quarter of Libya’s total output and has experienced several production stops since its restart.

In late March, two unnamed groups seized control of the pipeline carrying crude from Sharara to Zawiya, but after an intervention from the national oil company’s chairman, production was restored. Then, in April, the pipelines were shut down again by protesters, and only reopened late that month.

Then, in June, yet another protest among workers—which followed the death of an oilfield worker—stopped production at the country’s largest oil field.

In July, no interruptions were reported at Sharara, which probably had a role to play in Libya’s stable oil output increase that pulled up OPEC’s production for the month. The country is exempt from the November production cut deal because of its political and militant group troubles.

Libya boasts the biggest crude oil reserves in Africa, but the civil war that ravaged the country after the removal of Muammar Gaddafi crippled its oil industry. Before the war, Libya produced 1.6 million barrels of crude daily. By the end of this year, the National Oil Corporation aims to hit a target of 1.2 million bpd – short of the pre-war rate but double the March 2017 daily average.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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