Libya's Eastern Oil Fields May Halt Amid Port Blockage

  • Tanks at Hariga will be full in 4 weeks: NOC spokesman Harari
  • Crude exports through port account for 75% of Libya's total

Fields responsible for the bulk of Libya’s oil exports will be forced to halt production within a month unless a blockade is lifted on the port of Marsa el-Hariga, according to the Tripoli-based National Oil Corp.

“In less than four weeks we will have to shut production completely because the tanks at Hariga will be full,” Mohamed Harari, a spokesman for NOC, said in an e-mailed statement late on Monday. "The blockade will cause serious harm and bring no benefits.”

Factions controlling the east of the North African nation said April 30 that they wouldn’t allow any tankers to depart Hariga without their approval. The move came after the region’s bid to sell a crude cargo independently of the NOC in Tripoli was stymied as the United Nations blacklisted the shipment. Output from the nation has slumped about 80 percent since the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Al Qaddafi as different groups compete for control of oil facilities.

Oil officials in eastern Libya said Monday that they have no plans to block shipments from Hariga. No tankers have left the port since April 28, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The tanker Seachance is still moored off eastern Libya after being prevented from exporting 1 million barrels of crude from the terminal, the data show.

Rising Tensions

As tensions rise between the UN-backed western-based government of national unity led by Fayez al Serraj and a rival administration in the east, oil production by Arabian Gulf Oil Co., which ships crude through Hariga, has dropped to 90,000 barrels a day from 240,000 barrels, the producer said last week.

Exports from the port account for three quarters of the country’s total, Harari said, adding that payments to the central bank will dry up and the dinar will be affected if eastern fields are shut down. Oil flowing from some of the fields to Hariga is high in wax and will solidify in the pipelines if it doesn’t move, causing permanent production loss, he said.

“Open the ports for the wellbeing of our country," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in the statement. "Unity is the only solution.”

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