Production restarting at Libya’s Sharara oilfield after blockade lifted

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Production at Libya’s Sharara oilfield, the country’s largest, was gradually restarting on Wednesday after the lifting of a pipeline blockade, Libyan oil sources said.

“We have just started, little by little,” said a source at the field, who asked not to be named. He said it would likely take three to four days for production to reach normal levels.

Sharara had been producing up to about 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) until it was forced to shut because of a pipeline blockade on Aug. 19.

The blockade was lifted on Tuesday at a valve near the western town of Zintan, on the pipeline leading from the field to Zawiya terminal on Libya’s Mediterranean coast.

Maintenance needed

The source at the field said some maintenance was needed as production resumes, and that some damage had been caused by the closure.

A second source said production could restart quickly once checks were made. “Usually pumping starts after they do some tests to make sure it is okay,” he said.

Sharara resumed production in December after a two-year pipeline blockade and has been key to a recovery of Libya’s national output to about 1 million bpd, about four times its mid-2016 level.

But the field has suffered repeated temporary shutdowns this year because of protests and armed group activity around the field and along the pipeline leading north.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) had blamed the latest Sharara shut-down on a rogue militia which it said was also responsible for closures at El Feel and Hamada fields. El Feel and Hamada were subsequently reopened.

The NOC runs Sharara in a joint venture with oil companies Repsol, Total, Statoil and OMV.