(Updates with Sharara production at 58,000 barrels)
By Ahmed Elumami
TRIPOLI Dec 21 Production at the major Libyan
oilfield of Sharara reached 58,000 barrels on Wednesday as
operations gradually resumed after the lifting of a two-year
pipeline blockade, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.
The NOC hopes to be able to add 270,000 barrels per day
(bpd) to national output over the next three months after
announcing on Tuesday that pipelines leading from Sharara and a
nearby field, El Feel, had been reopened.
"The NOC gave instructions to operating companies to restart
production from the fields and to carry out the necessary
testing and maintenance works," the NOC said in a statement on
Wednesday. "Production at Sharara reached 58,000 on the first
In a video published on social media on Wednesday, workers
at Sharara could be seen shouting in celebration as gas flares
The NOC did not give details on the status of El Feel, but
an engineer at the field told Reuters earlier that workers there
were ready to resume production.
The production capacity of Sharara is about 330,000 bpd, and
El Feel around 90,000 bpd, according to the NOC.
Sharara had been closed since November 2014 and El Feel
since April 2015 because of the pipeline blockade. Production at
the fields has also 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
oil to be pumped again.
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 bolster oil prices by cutting global supply. Libya
and Nigeria were exempted from a recent OPEC pledge to reduce
oil production by around 1.8 million bpd.
But 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 Muammar Gaddafi.
National output recently doubled to 600,000 bpd, when forces
loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar took control of
several ports in Libya's eastern Oil Crescent from a rival
faction and allowed the NOC to reopen them. This week a tanker
has been loading oil at the biggest of those ports, Es Sider,
the first loading in more than two years.
However, national production remains far below the more than
1.6 million bpd Libya was producing before 2011, and much
infrastructure is in need of maintenance or repair.
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
Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman)