Libya’s Agoco Halts Sarir Oil Field as Protest Shuts Hariga Port

  • 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.

To read more about the political divides in Libya, click here.

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.

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