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Libya's Biggest Oil Field Sharara Resumes Production

Updated on
  • Sharara field began pumping again after reopening of pipeline
  • Output at deposit is set to reach about 300,000 b/d on Tuesday

Oil drilling rig in El-Sharara, Libya. 

Photographer: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Libya’s biggest oil field began pumping again after the reopening of a pipeline to a refinery on the coast.

The Sharara deposit in western Libya began producing again after a one-day halt, the National Oil Corp. said in a statement. It was stopped due to an “illegal” closing of a pipeline valve connecting the field to a refinery in Zawiya, west of Tripoli, where there’s a also a crude-export terminal. The incident meant about 500,000 barrels of production was curbed.

Libya was producing 1.1 million barrels a day on March 1, with Sharara contributing 300,000 of that. A person familiar with the matter said earlier that it should get back to full output by Tuesday. The field is run by a joint venture between the National Oil Corp. and Repsol SA, Total SA, OMV AG and Statoil ASA. Sharara stopped pumping several days after output plunged at another of the OPEC member’s biggest deposits, El-Feel.

Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has struggled to boost oil production amid the lingering effects of civil strife that erupted earlier in the decade. Output has risen from 370,000 barrels a day two years ago, though it remains well below the 1.6 million barrels a day Libya pumped before the ouster and killing of former leader Moammar Al Qaddafi.

Despite the political and security challenges in Libya, foreign companies seem to be expanding their interest in the North African nation. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and PetroChina have agreed on annual deals to buy Libyan crude. Total acquired Marathon Oil Corp.’s Libyan assets for $450 million, the French company said on March 2.

The one-day halt cost the NOC about $30 million, according to the statement.

(Updates throughout to attribute restart to state oil company.)
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