El Sharara Oilfield Still Closed Despite End of Protest

Source: Reuters 5/4/2014, Location: Africa

Libyan tribesmen have ended their blockade of the El Sharara oilfield but production cannot resume until a separate protest at a connecting pipeline is resolved, an oil official said.

In February, tribesmen and government security guards shut down the 340,000 barrels-a-day field in the remote south to make financial and political demands, worsening a blockage of oil ports in the east.

"The protesters who closed the field have left but we cannot resume work because the valves are still closed," El Sharara's field manager Hassan Sadiq told Reuters.

Sadiq said there were negotiations aimed at ending the closure of the pipeline valves in the western mountains and engineers hoped to resume pumping within a week.

A different group of protesters in the western Zintan region had closed the pipelines to make their own financial and political demands. The El Sharara oilfield has been repeatedly shut down by protesters.

Three years after the revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's oil infrastructure is a common target for protests, shutdowns and strikes by brigades of former rebels who refuse to disarm or recognise the state's authority.

Oil and gas are the main source of national income and of the hard currency needed to fund essential food imports.

Production was around 1.4 million bpd until mid-2013 when the protests began, reducing it to little over 200,000 bpd.

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