Libya bars oil tankers from protest port: State firm

AFP , Monday 6 Jan 2014

Libya's navy has stopped two oil tankers from entering Al-Sedra port, the site of a months-long dispute between protesting guards and the government, its National Oil Corporation said Monday.

"The Libyan naval forces on Sunday prevented... a Maltese-flagged tanker in talks with illegal parties from entering the port of Al-Sedra to take on crude," said the NOC.

The state-owned company added that another oil tanker whose crew had sought to enter the port for the same reason was also prevented from doing so.

Oil installation guards launched their protest in July, initially over price hikes but later to call for autonomy of the eastern region of Cyrenaica, cradle of the 2011 revolt that toppled Moamer Kadhafi.

Over the weekend, the NOC decided to keep in place the force majeure it declared in August for the terminals at Al-Sedra, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina.

The government on Thursday convinced residents in the town of Ubari to end their blockade of Al-Sharara oilfield, after a five-month protest demanding oil revenues be distributed more evenly.

The oilfield's output reached 207,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Monday, compared with 60,000 when production resumed on Saturday, an NOC spokesman told AFP.

On 29 December, the NOC said production at its southern oilfields of Sarir and Msala had resumed after being suspended for months due to the closure of refineries in the east.

The crisis has seen Libya's total output plunge to about 250,000 bpd from nearly 1.5 million bpd before.

Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said last month that lost production because of the blockades had cost Libya about $9.0 billion (6.6 billion euros) in revenues.

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