Libya’s Sharara oilfield still shut due to action by armed brigade

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Libya’s giant Sharara oilfield remained closed on Tuesday morning, two days after an armed brigade shut it down over salary claims and other demands, an engineer at the field said.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Monday it was working for a swift reopening of the field, which had been pumping more than 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) before it closed late on Sunday.

Chairman Mustafa Sanalla has said the NOC was trying to end the shutdown through a senior intermediary and had also launched legal action against the armed group, which identified itself as Brigade 30.

The group published a statement saying it had shut the field to demand wages, the release of brigade members who had been detained, and fuel supplies, among other claims.

Oil facilities in Libya are generally controlled by local armed groups, some of which have semi-official status as guards.

Sanalla said he did not know whether Brigade 30 were entitled to state salary payments as security employees, but made an appeal against the use of blockades, saying the NOC could not be blackmailed into paying out money.

Sharara, which has suffered from repeated shutdowns this year, had been producing 234,000 bpd before it closed. Sanalla said on Monday that output could rapidly recover if the field was quickly reopened, bringing national production back to around one million bpd.

A recent recovery in Libyan production had fueled speculation an OPEC-led drive to boost oil prices by cutting output might be losing traction. Libya has been exempt from the production cuts.

Libya’s NOC operates Sharara in partnership with oil companies Repsol, Total, OMV and Statoil.

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