Tanker Docks to Collect First East Libyan Crude in Months

An oil tanker docked at a port in eastern Libya as the region prepares to export crude for the first time since July after civil unrest decimated the North African country’s production and shipments.

The Aegean Dignity arrived at the Hariga terminal today and will start loading 1 million barrels of crude tonight or tomorrow morning, Mohamed Elharari, spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp., said by phone. The shipment is for Italy, according to a statement from NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil.

“This is the first loading in around nine months from any of the rebel-controlled ports in the east and the first concrete positive from the deals announced just over a week ago,” Richard Mallinson, Energy Aspects analyst in London, said by phone. “But it is worth remembering that the market is only taking this as a very limited positive development” because other terminals remain shut.

Libya, the holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves, has dropped to the smallest producer among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as unrest deepened since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi three years ago. The nation, which pumped close to 1.6 million barrels a day until the start of 2011, is now producing 200,000 barrels a day, Elharari said yesterday.

Rebels seeking a share in oil revenue for their region took control of four of Libya’s nine oil ports in July. The central government reached an agreement with some rebels earlier this month to open the Hariga and Zueitina oil terminals, which have combined capacity of 180,000 barrels a day.

Es Sider, Libya’s largest terminal, and Ras Lanuf are still shut. State-run National Oil is in the process of lifting force majeure on Zueitina, Oil Ministry Measurement Director Ibrahim Al Awami said April 10, referring to the legal step that protects companies from liability when operations are disrupted for reasons beyond their control.

Vienna-based oil company OMV AG booked the Aegean Dignity tanker to load a cargo of Sarir crude from Hariga between April 15 and 16, two traders said on April 11, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

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