Libya’s Agoco Halts Sarir Oil Field as Protest Shuts Hariga PortHatem Mohareb and Salma El Wardany
Company’s output cut by half, may stop altogether within week
Closure further undermines efforts to revive crippled industry
Libya’s Arabian Gulf Oil Co. halted production at the Sarir field after a protest by oil-facility guards shut the eastern port of Hariga.
The 100,000-barrel-a-day field was taken offline after oil exports stopped, Omran al-Zwai, a spokesman for the company known as Agoco, said Monday by phone. Agoco’s production was cut by half on Sunday to 90,000 barrels a day, he said.
A unit of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a government force protecting national oil facilities, is staging a sit-in over delayed salaries. The protest has already stranded an Italy-bound shipment of 600,000 barrels at Hariga port, which has been shut since Saturday, according to al-Zwai.
The port’s closure and the shutdown of Sarir further hamper efforts to revive Libyan oil output, which has dwindled to 320,000 barrels a day from 1.6 million before the toppling of ruler Moammar Al Qaddafi in 2011. Four other ports, accounting for about 860,000 barrels a day of exporting capacity, were already shut as a result of political turmoil and fighting.
Hariga, with a daily loading capacity of 110,000 barrels, has been one of the biggest operating terminals in the country over the past year and a half. If the guards’ sit-in at the facility continues, Agoco’s production may halt within a week, al-Zwai said.
The reduction in oil shipments casts doubt on efforts by Libya’s National Oil Corp. to end a conflict over control of the divided country’s crude exports and revenue. Rival leaders of the NOC reached an agreement July 2 to unify the state company under a single management as various factions work to set up a Government of National Accord.
Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, is now the second-smallest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, ahead of Gabon.