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Libyan Oil Ports Resume Export Operations After Protest Halt

Three Libyan oil ports began export operations after a halt on July 5 because of protests, said the chairman of state-run National Oil Corp.

Crude production in the North African country will return to a level of 1.5 million barrels a day within 24 hours, Nuri Berruien said today in a phone interview from the capital, Tripoli. “Everything is back to normal since last night,” he said. “The three ports are open, production is picking up and ships are getting in to start loading.”

Protesters occupied the ports of Ras Lanuf, Brega and Es-Sider to call attention to their claims of economic and political marginalization of Libya’s oil-rich eastern province of Cyrenaica, cutting crude exports by about 300,000 barrels a day, Berruien said. Libya yesterday held its first free national election in more than 40 years amid political infighting and threats of a boycott after an uprising last year ousted Muammar Qaddafi.

Libya, holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves, is targeting an average output of 1.5 million barrels a day this month and capacity is “technically” back at pre-war levels of 1.6 million barrels a day, Berruien said in a separate interview yesterday.

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