Libya’s oil production has plunged by almost a quarter after workers shut the OPEC country’s biggest field to protest lack of medical care following the death of a colleague, a person familiar with the matter said.

Output has fallen to 618,000 barrels a day after workers halted production at Sharara field, protesting the death of a colleague and demanding better working conditions, the person said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. The country was producing 807,000 barrels a day on Monday, Jadalla Alaokali, board member at National Oil Corp., said at the time.

Libya has sought to boost crude exports but fighting and labor unrest at ports and fields have crippled these efforts. In the country where much of the foreign staff of international companies left following a 2011 uprising, local employees run risks as they continue to produce and export crude. Libya was exempt from production cuts agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied suppliers on May 25 to battle a global glut.

Worker’s Death

Workers at Sharara shut production at the field Wednesday to protest the death of a colleague due to lack of proper emergency medical care, Bassam Yekhlef, a technician at the field, said by phone.

“We’re demanding better medical service and better working conditions,” Yekhlef said. “We don’t want to cause harm to production or to our country and we will end the protest very soon, once the management responds to our demands. We generate millions of dollars to our nation and we deserve a better treatment.”

The shutdown is only temporary and a force majeure is unlikely to be declared, an NOC official said on Wednesday. Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of state producer National Oil Corp., didn’t answer phone calls or text messages seeking comment.

Sharara has a capacity of 330,000 barrels a day and is operated by a joint venture between Libya’s NOC and Repsol SA, Total SA, OMV AG and Statoil ASA. Crude from the field in the western parts of the country had resumed flowing to the Zawiya refinery in late April, after a three-week closure.

Source: Bloomberg

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