Libya

A new workers’ protest in Libya has shut down the country’s largest oilfield, creating yet another hurdle for a war-torn country as it struggles to rebuild its oil output.

The demonstrators shuttered the 270,000-barrel per day Sharara oilfield on Wednesday, a source at the site told World Oil. The unrest began when one worker died at the field, another source added.

Libyan output had reached 827,000 bpd before Sharara halted production today. Libya and Nigeria are both exempt from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) deal to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels per day through March 2018.

An NOC spokesman said the field will probably not declare a force majeure, as the current halt is temporary.

Libya’s oil production has been unstable since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 as part of the regional Arab Spring movement. A civil war broke out between factions vying for power, preventing a restart in oil export activities. The past few months of relative stability has allowed output to increase incrementally.

The current production rate is still far from the 1.6 million barrels the North African producer boasted before the 2011 civil war, but significantly higher than what it produced last year. For this year, the NOC plans to bring the total up to 1.32 million bpd, up from an earlier target of 1.1 million bpd.

OPEC-member Nigeria and non-OPEC producer United States are both increasing output as well, further flooding global oil markets. Lagos had been dealing with attacks by groups like the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other affiliates, but the incidents have slowed in recent months, allowing the Forcados pipeline to be repaired and oil output to recover. Shale producers in the U.S. are taking advantage of marginally higher prices to bring dozens of oil rigs in the Permian Basin online, despite warnings from senior Saudi officials who are desperate to see higher barrel prices before the Aramco IPO next year.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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