Libya halts operations at El Feel oilfield and Zueitina port due to protests

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  • Libya’s National Oil Corp announces force majeure in El Feel
  • Exports from the oil port of Zueitina stopped
  • Zueitina protesters demand the withdrawal of Tripoli-based Prime Minister Sanalla from the NOC

BENGHAZI, April 17 (Reuters) – Libya halted oil production from its El Feel oilfield on Sunday and two sources at the oil port of Zueitina said exports there had been suspended after protesters called for the resignation of the Tripoli-based Prime Minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, took control of the sites.

Shutting down operations at El Feel and Zueitina would cripple Libyan oil production, which averaged 1.21 million barrels a day before the latest blackouts. Force majeure on El Feel cuts the North African nation’s production by 70,000 barrels per day.

Libya has had two competing governments since March, when the east-based parliament appointed Fathi Bashagha to replace Dbeibah, renewing a deadlock between the east and west of the country. Dbeibah refused to cede power to Bashagha who has not yet arrived in Tripoli.

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State-owned oil company NOC said in a statement that a group of people, whom it did not identify, broke into El Feel’s facilities the day before and prevented employees from working.

Meanwhile, two oil engineers from Zueitina told Reuters that protesters entered the port on Sunday morning, preventing a tanker from loading 1 million barrels into the port.

Zueitina protesters said in a video statement posted on social media that they will halt production at the port and its oil fields until Dbeibah leaves office.

Describing themselves as a group of Zueitina residents including elders, the protesters also called for the dismissal of NOC leader Mustafa Sanalla in opposition to the company’s transfer of oil revenues to the Dbeibah government.

The Ministry of Finance said the NOC on Thursday transferred $6 billion in oil revenue to the ministry’s account at the central bank.

No immediate comment was available from Dbeibah’s office.

The Oil and Gas Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the closures “will harm NOC’s position in global markets due to its inability to implement its obligations.”

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Reporting by Ayman al-Werfalli in Benghazi, Additional reporting by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli, Writing by Maher Chmaytelli and Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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