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Libya’s NOC reopens largest oilfield, US urges for end of five-month long blockade

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Sunday confirmed that some production has resumed at the giant Sharara oilfield in the south of the country, it said in a statement.

Two engineers from the field told Reuters on Saturday that production at Sharara was gradually restarting after a blockade closed the 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) field for more than four months.

The state oil company on Sunday said that production at Sharara restarted “after lengthy negotiations by the NOC to reopen the Hamada valve, which had been illegally closed last January.”

No details were given of the negotiations.
The valve that had been closed on the pipeline running from Sharara to the northern oil terminal of Zawiya was reopened on Friday, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) said.

The oil flowing from Sharara reached Zawiya terminal in the early hours of Sunday, the PFG said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Libya welcomed the NOC announcement “as a significant step forward as the NOC fulfills its crucial and apolitical mandate to promote the interests of all Libyans.

“Now is the time for all responsible parties to reject attempts to militarize the energy sector & subjugate critical infrastructure to foreign interests,” the embassy said in a statement.

Production at Sharara will start at 30,000 bpd, NOC said, adding that the output is expected to return to full capacity within 90 days.

Sharara is operated by NOC in a joint venture with Spain’s Repsol, France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Norway’s Equinor. NOC declared force majeure on loadings from the field in January.

The blockade of Libya’s oil for a period of 142 days resulted in losses estimated at about $5.3 billion, NOC said.

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