Libya’s NOC Lifts Force Majeure at Eastern Ports, Exports to Resume

A view shows pipelines at the Zueitina oil terminal in Zueitina, west of Benghazi, Libya September 14, 2016. Picture taken September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

BENGHAZI, Libya, Sept 15  – Libya’s National Oil Corporation is lifting force majeure at three ports seized days earlier by eastern forces, and exports will resume immediately at two of them, it said on Thursday.

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement he had accepted a handover of the ports from forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar during a visit to Zueitina on Wednesday.

“Exports will resume immediately from Zueitina and Ras Lanuf, and will continue at Brega,” Sanalla said, adding the decision was taken according to instructions from both the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and Libya’s eastern parliament. “Exports will resume from Es Sider as soon as possible.”

A port official at Ras Lanuf said a tanker had docked to load crude at the port early on Thursday, the first to do so since at least 2014, and that a second tanker had docked at Brega, which has remained open.

He said the shipments had been arranged before eastern commander Khalifa Haftar Libyan National Army (LNA) seized control of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and Brega on Sunday and Monday.

Separately, an oil official said production had restarted on Thursday at the Nafoura field, which was closed in November 2015 due to force majeure at Zueitina port.

Political disputes, armed conflict and militant attacks have reduced Libya’s oil output to a fraction of the 1.6 million barrels per day it produced before the OPEC member’s 2011 uprising.

The LNA seized the oil ports from a rival force loyal to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Western powers condemned the move, saying they were ready to prevent any exports attempted outside the GNA’s authority, but Sanalla said it could lead to a “new phase of cooperation” between Libya’s factions.

Earlier this week Sanalla said production could be raised to 600,000 bpd from about 290,000 bpd within a month, and to 950,000 bpd by the end of the year, but that this would depend on the NOC receiving new funds and on the reopening of blockaded pipelines in southwest Libya.

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