Clashes between armed groups and closures of fields have disrupted output as the country with Africa’s largest crude reserves struggles to revive its most important industry. Fighting in early March led to the closing of two of Libya’s main oil terminals, forcing a number of fields to stop pumping. The ports have since reopened. Libya pumped as much as 1.6 million barrels a day before an uprising in 2011 led to a plunge in output and is currently one of the smallest producers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The pipeline carrying Sharara crude to the Zawiya refinery was blocked in early April just one week after it reopened, halting production at the field. Sharara is operated by a joint venture between the NOC and Repsol SA, Total SA, OMV AG and Statoil ASA. It has a capacity of 330,000 barrels a day and was pumping 200,000, the NOC said on April 4.
El Feel, operated by a joint venture between Eni SpA and NOC, has a capacity of 90,000 barrels a day. El Feel couldn’t resume production until Sharara was restarted because Sharara helps to supply electricity to El Feel.
Separately, authorities captured two tankers that were attempting to smuggle fuel from Libya and detained their crews after an exchange of gunfire, according to Ayoub Qassem, spokesman for the country’s naval forces. The coast guard seized the vessels on Thursday off the Sidi Said area west of the capital Tripoli, Qassem said. The first tanker held about 3,330 tons of diesel in its tanks, and the other had 300 tons, he said.