Libya's Oil Output Falls to Six-Month Low as Field Shuts

  • Zawiya and Mellitah terminals in West under force majeure
  • Sharara, nation’s biggest field, halts after pipeline shuts

Libya’s crude production dropped to about 500,000 barrels a day, the lowest since September, as exports from the nation’s second-largest terminal at Zawiya were disrupted.

The OPEC nation’s output has fallen from about 700,000 barrels last week since production halted at Sharara in southwest Libya following the shutdown of the pipeline that links the field to Zawiya, according to a person familiar with the matter who isn’t authorized to speak to the media and asked not to be identified. Shipments from Zawiya, west of Tripoli, are now under force majeure.

An increase in Libya’s crude output since late last year faltered this month when an armed group took control of the nation’s biggest oil port at Es Sider, east of Tripoli, where the first tanker in weeks loaded on Monday, according to tanker tracking. The nation’s output averaged about 624,000 barrels a day in the past five months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Brent crude futures gained in London amid concern about supply disruption, which has now also spread to the Mellitah terminal. Brent gained 22 cents to $51.55 a barrel as of 1:36pm London time, advancing for the third time in four days.

Libya’s National Oil Corp. declared force majeure on Sharara crude with effect from Tuesday, a clause which relieves it from delivery obligations due to circumstances outside its control. The same restrictions are in place for loadings of Wafa field condensate from Mellitah, according to the person.

Repeated Disruptions

Libya has sought to boost crude exports after fighting among rival militias hobbled oil production following the overthrow in 2011 of Moammar Al Qaddafi. The conflict showed signs of calming in recent months, with oil output rising from as little as 260,000 barrels a day in August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Libya pumped 1.6 million barrels daily before Qaddafi’s ouster.

Sharara, which was producing 221,000 barrels a day before the halt, is operated by a joint venture between NOC and Repsol SA, Total SA, OMV AG and Statoil ASA. The field’s total capacity is 330,000 barrels a day. The Eni SpA-developed Wafa oil field, further to the west near the Algerian border, has capacity to produce about 35,000 barrels a day.

A booking for an Aframax tanker, Sea Vine, which was to arrive at Zawiya Wednesday to load 600,000 barrels of Sharara crude has been canceled, said a second person who also asked not to be identified. Sea Vine is still showing Zawiya as its destination, according to Bloomberg tanker tracking.

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