Libya Protesters Shut Wafa Oil Field, Reducing Supply for Export

Protesters halted oil flow from an Eni SpA-operated field in western Libya, reducing supply to the Mellitah export terminal and threatening operations at four natural gas-fired power stations, officials said.

Young people unhappy that Libya’s constitution doesn’t recognize Amazigh, or the Berber language, as an official tongue in addition to Arabic, yesterday turned off a pipeline carrying fuel from the Wafa field to Mellitah, forcing the field to shut down, Mohamad Al-Ansari, an Oil Ministry media officer, said in a telephone interview from the capital Tripoli.

“Talks to reopen the field are under way between the oil ministry and the protesting youth,” he said today.

Wafa provides an average of about 13 million cubic meters a a day of natural gas, 23,000 barrels a day of natural gas liquids and 38,000 barrels a day of oil and condensates, according to the website of Eni’s Libyan unit, Mellitah Oil & Gas BV. The North African country’s oil production exceeded 700,000 barrels a day, nearly 45 percent of installed capacity, on higher output from the western region, Oil Ministry Measurement Director Ibrahim Al Awami said yesterday, before Wafa was shut down.

The closing of the pipeline threatens gas supply to power stations in the west of the country, Ruwais, Zawiya, Khoms and Misratah, state-run Lana news agency said.

Protests by workers and guards at energy facilities since July have reduced production from Libya’s eastern oil fields to a near halt. The nation produced about 300,000 barrels a day on average this month, the lowest level since the civil war that toppled Muammar Qaddafi two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country has capacity to pump 1.55 million barrels daily, the data show.

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