Libya’s biggest oil field stopped pumping after a workers’ protest, according to a person familiar with the situation, a sign of the challenges vexing the politically fragmented nation as it seeks to restore production, Bloomberg reports.
Management is negotiating with protesters at the Sharara field in western Libya, and production may resume as early as Monday, said the person, who asked not to be identified for lack of authorization to speak to news media. The field was pumping 275,000 barrels a day as of July 12, a person with knowledge of the situation said at the time.
Libya’s crude output and exports reached a fresh three-year high last month as fighting among armed militias abated and leaders of the country’s rival administrations agreed in principle on steps to unite the nation. The recovery in the country holding Africa’s largest crude reserves makes it harder for OPEC and allied oil-producing nations to curb a global supply surplus that’s depressing prices for crude.
The North African producer shipped about 865,000 barrels a day of crude in July, tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show. That was a gain of 11 percent from June, which was already the highest since at least July 2014.
The speed at which Libya can revive crude sales is critical for the oil market because, together with Nigeria, the nation wasn’t bound by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries supply restrictions that helped limit output this year. OPEC extended the cuts accord, and Libya’s exemption from it, through March 2018.
Libya slid into chaos after the armed uprising that toppled and killed former strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with myriad armed groups and two administrations vying for control of the country’s energy facilities. Its rival leaders — Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar — agreed last month to a cease-fire, combining the country’s divided oil company and armed forces, and elections as soon as possible.