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Libya's NOC Asks Oil Workers to Return

Source: Reuters 3/14/2011, Location: Africa

Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) has called on employees to return to work at oil installations and is hopeful oil production can soon increase, the head of NOC said on Monday.

An uprising against the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has sharply reduced oil production in Libya, usually Africa's third largest producer with output of 1.6 million barrels per day, or almost 2 percent of world supply.

"The oil companies in Libya made a call for the return of all the employees to their work," NOC Chairman Shokri Ghanem told Reuters by telephone.

"The production went down because of the shortage of employees. We are calling them back so hopefully we can increase the production pretty soon."

On Monday, forces loyal to Gaddafi launched air strikes on the rebel-held Libyan town of Ajdabiyah after sweeping east and the government offered an amnesty to any rebels who returned to army ranks.

An analyst said it appeared Gaddafi's forces had retaken much of the oil sector.

"The oil industry increasingly seems to have fallen back under government control," said Samuel Ciszuk, senior Middle East energy analyst at IHS Global Insight.

Ghanem did not estimate how long any increase in output would take and said workers now had the job of assessing any damage and making any repairs.

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