TRIPOLI – Operations at Libya’s southwestern Sharara oilfield were gradually resuming on Wednesday after the lifting of a two-year blockade on a pipeline leading from the field, a senior official said on Wednesday.
“We started running the wells and then gradually we will start pumping to the Zawiya refinery,” the official, who works at the field, told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “The process will start normally this evening or tomorrow, once we make sure that everything is stable, since the field was closed for two years.”
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) confirmed on Tuesday that pipelines leading from Sharara and El Feel fields had reopened, saying it hoped to add 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) to national production over the next three months.
The NOC says the production capacity of Sharara is about 330,000 bpd, and El Feel around 90,000 bpd.
An engineer at El Feel said on Wednesday that workers there had not so far received any instructions to restart operations. “Once we are asked to do so, we are ready to resume work,” he said.
Sharara has been closed since November 2014 and El Feel since April 2015. Production at both fields has been blocked in the past by local armed factions loyal to rival Libyan alliances, and it is not clear what commitments have been secured from armed groups to allow production to resume.
Last week, after a faction of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) announced a deal to reopen the pipelines, officials at El Feel said a separate group of guards, from the Tebu ethnic group, were preventing a restart there.
Any speedy recovery in Libyan output could slow the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) efforts to rebalance the market and ease a global supply glut. Libya and Nigeria were exempted from a recent OPEC pledge to cut oil production by around 1.8 million bpd.
Libyan production increases could still be reversed or disrupted by political and armed disputes that continue to plague the North African country five years after the uprising that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
National output recently doubled to 600,000 bpd but remains far below the more than 1.6 million bpd the OPEC member was producing before 2011.
Sharara is run by the NOC, Repsol, Total, OMV and Statoil. El Feel is operated by the NOC and ENI.
(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Louise Heavens)