Libya’s oil exports shrink to just over 10% capacity

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Libya’s crude oil exports have shrunk to just over 10 percent of capacity from three ports, out of a possible nine, as armed groups have tightened their grip on its major industry.

Exports are down to only around 145,000 barrels per day, compared with a capacity of close to 1.25 million bpd, according to one industry source with close ties to Libya.

Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi this week blamed mainly non-oil workers and agitators pushing for regional autonomy in Libya for the strikes, which he said had cost the country $2 billion in lost revenue so far.

Buyers of Libya crude oil are now only able to load from the Bouri and Al Jurf offshore platforms and the Marsa al Brega port in the east, which resumed exports on the weekend.

Loadings from the western Zawiya terminal, with a capacity of up to 230,000 bpd, were halted earlier this week, several trading and shipping sources said on Thursday.

An armed group blocked pipeline flows from the El Sharara and El Feel fields in the south to the Zawiya and Mellitah terminals, late on Monday.

“Some 10 people blocked the terminal since Monday, but anyway, the pipeline feeding the port was down,” a shipping source close to the matter said.

The El Sharara field also feeds the 120,000 bpd Zawiya refinery, which is now expected to close as crude storage runs dry.

“Zawiya refinery is hogging the oil to keep it running,” one trader said.

An oil industry source with close ties to Libya said the refinery might have another day or two before having to close.

A trading source said only condensate was still available for loading from Mellitah, not crude.

The government has repeatedly threatened military intervention to prevent protesters from selling oil independently of the state-run National Oil Corporation.

But Prime Minister Ali Zeidan tempered recent statements by saying that Libya was seeking a peaceful way to end the oil strikes. Libya’s oil production has been cut to 250,000 barrels per day, from prewar levels of 1.6 million bpd, he said.

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