Libya halts operations at El Feel oilfield, Zueitina port due to protests
BENGHAZI (Reuters) – Libya halted oil production from its El Feel oilfield on Sunday and two sources at Zueitina oil port said exports there had been suspended after protesters calling for Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah to resign took over the sites.
Halting operations in El Feel and Zueitina would cripple Libya’s oil production which averaged 1.21 million barrels per day before the latest outages. The force majeure on El Feel curtails the North African nation’s production by 70,000 barrels per day.
Libya has had two competing governments since March when the eastern-based parliament appointed Fathi Bashagha to replace Dbeibah, renewing a standoff between the east and west of the country. Dbeibah has refused to cede power to Bashagha who has not made into Tripoli yet.
The state-owned oil company NOC said in a statement that a group of people, which it did not identify, had entered the facilities of El Feel the previous day and prevented employees from working.
Meanwhile, two oil engineers at Zueitina told Reuters that protesters got into the port on Sunday morning preventing a tanker from loading 1 million barrels at the port.
The protesters at Zueitina said in a video statement circulated on social media that they will halt production in the port and its oilfields until Dbeibah leaves office.
Describing themselves as a group of Zueitina residents including elders, the protesters also called for the sacking of NOC’s chief, Mustafa Sanalla, in objection to the company transferring oil revenues to Dbeibah’s government.
The ministry of finance said NOC transferred $6 bln from oil revenues to the ministry’s account in the central bank on Thursday.
No immediate comment was available from Dbeibah’s office.
The ministry of oil and gas said on Sunday in a statement that these closures “will harm NOC’s position in the global markets as a result of its inability to implement its obligations.”
(Reporting by Ayman al-Werfalli in Benghazi, Aadditional reporting by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli, Writing by Maher Chmaytelli and Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Raissa Kasolowsky)