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Libya Investigating Explosion at Zueitina Oil Pipelines

Libya’s Zueitina Oil Co. is repairing a pipeline network struck by an explosion yesterday as the country’s deputy petroleum minister forecast an increase later this year in Libyan oil output.

Firefighters were called to the scene in eastern Libya after pipelines were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, the official Lana news agency reported, citing army commander Moftah Buhariq. While state-run National Oil Corp. said the attack targeted a pipeline for crude and another for condensate, Lana said a single gas pipeline was struck. Neither gave details of any damage or disruption to shipments.

Zueitina began repairs and an investigation into the blast, which took place at about 10 p.m. yesterday, NOC said on its website. No one was hurt and the reason for the attack isn’t yet known, NOC said.

Efforts to bring crude production back to levels seen before the 2011 uprising that ousted leader Muammar Qaddafi have been hampered by sporadic fighting between armed groups as well as strikes and sit-ins at energy installations. The latest attack comes as Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak announced in Dubai today that Libya expects output to rise to 1.7 million barrels a day this year from 1.5 million barrels a day now.

“Obviously there is a vacuum of power in Libya and it’s becoming an increasingly fractured nation,” Sana Abid, an oil analyst at KBC Energy Economics, said by phone from London. “I don’t see anything positive politically and these kinds of incidents make me feel more wary of them reaching their production target. They are going to struggle to get past 1.5 million barrels a day this year.”

Gunmen Attack

Last month, gunmen attacked security forces at Waha Oil Co.’s Dahra field, and in a separate incident, clashes erupted between rival militias in the western town of Zuwara, forcing the country to stop natural-gas exports to Italy.

The pipeline that was attacked last night links Zueitina’s export terminal to the company’s oil field number 103, the Abu Attifel field, which is operated by Mellitah Oil and Gas, and the Nakhla field run by Wintershall AG, according to NOC.

Libya hasn’t pumped 1.7 million barrels a day on a monthly average basis since November 2008, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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