Libya to resume oil exports from Brega as protests ease

Libya said it will resume oil exports from Brega, one of four ports where it declared force majeure this week, as protests that shut the facilities since end-July eased. Brega may add some 90,000 barrels a day to Libya’s exports that are running at 500,000 barrels a day, shipped through the Zawiya terminal, in Western Libya, and the offshore loading platforms of Mellitah, Al Jurf and Bouri. The other terminals, where force majeure was declared on Aug. 18, Es Sider, the nation’s largest, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina, remain shut. The oil port of Hariga hasn’t resumed even though state-run National Oil Corp. didn’t include it in the list of halts.

Protests over pay and corruption allegations by members of the Petroleum Facilities Guards curtailed the North African nation’s output to less than half the 1.6 million barrel-a-day level pumped before the 2011 revolution that ousted Muammar Qaddafi. The closures impacted companies operating in the eastern and central regions such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Marathon Oil Corp., Hess Corp. and ConocoPhillips.

“NOC is hereby declaring a partial lifting of force majeure situation concerning the oil operations in Mersa El Brega loading port as of Thursday at 8:00 a.m.,” the company said in a posting on its website on Thursday 22. “The circumstances that caused the declaration of force majeure have improved.” Officials from NOC have been meeting long-term buyers of its crude in Istanbul to discuss the operational delays caused by the port closures, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Some cargoes for loading in August have already been canceled while others were deferred to September, the people said. Libya had planned to export 11.2 million barrels of its benchmark Es Sider grade this month. The nation is currently pumping 670,000 barrels of crude a day, an Oil Ministry official said on Thursday. Libyan tribesmen in the oil-rich eastern region stepped up efforts to persuade oil ports guards to end their protests, Walid Hassan, a spokesman for the Petroleum Facilities Guard, said in an interview Wednesday from Tripoli. The guards on strike “number in the hundreds only,” he said.

Hassan confirmed that the prosecutor has ordered the arrest of Ibrahim Al Jedran, head of the PFG’s central region force after the newly appointed PFG commander Brigadier Idris Bukhamada fired him for disobeying orders to reopen the ports. The PFG is an 18,000-strong unit of Libya’s military force.
The PFG have been demanding more arms, vehicles and better pay. They resorted to closing the ports in July when Al Jedran and loyal PFG members accused the oil ministry of illegal fuel sales, prompting angry reactions from the government. The oil ministry has organized visits to Es Sider and Hariga to show the media that every drop of oil is accounted for. Prime Minister Ali Zaidan repeatedly accused the PFG of ruining the nation’s economy earlier this month. The nation has lost at least $1.6 billion since the dispute started, Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi said on Aug. 15.

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