Libya’s Zueitina oil terminal should reopen in the coming days, officials said, after the oil ministry gave the go-ahead for activities to resume, following the latest disruption to the country’s economic lifeline.
At the facility which lies some 800 kilometers east of the capital Tripoli, protesters who had forced the shutdown of operations last month, were no longer there as negotiations over their social demands continued.
In the meantime, employees at the terminal were preparing to resume work.
“We received information from the administration saying that the organization has decided to restart operations and oil pumping at the Zueitina terminal,” Abduladeem Shareed, security supervisor at the terminal, said on Tuesday.
Libya’s Deputy oil minister said the terminal’s management had been given the go-ahead to plan restarting operations as soon as possible, with Shareed indicating the facility could be up and running again as early as this week.
“Maybe in a day or two, we will restart operations and shipping,” Shareed said.
No oil has been shipped out of Zueitina, which exports around 60,000-70,000 barrels per day, since the start of January, due to protests that began in December. A crude shipment left the terminal around the end of December.
Protesters’ threats have affected mainly the shipping of oil rather than gas, and the deputy oil minister said once pumping had resumed, it would take 10 to 14 working days for the first shipment to leave the terminal.
In December, protesters calling for jobs and other social demands forced their way into Zueitina port’s management offices and ordered the port director to shut down operations.
The chairman of Zueitina Oil Company later said they were persuaded to leave by local officials but it was not clear whether an actual agreement had been reached.
Oil installations have become a focal point of protests in Libya in the wake of July polls that ushered in the North African country’s first elected authorities.
Libya’s oil minister said last week his ministry had reached agreement with the army chief, defense and interior ministries to secure exporting terminals, after a spate of protests that have caused disruption to the key industry, which is almost back to pre-war output levels of 1.6 million bpd.
The Libyan administration is still struggling to impose order on a vast and divided country awash with arms and militias after the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in late 2011.