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Libyan oil workers at El Sharara, other fields demand salary increase

Published: Updated:

A number of workers at Libya’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, and two other facilities are demanding a salary increase by two-thirds at a time when the OPEC country’s oil output is surging.

The comments are the first sign of dissent at the 315,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) field in southern Libya since it reopened this month. State guards and tribesmen had closed El Sharara in December in an apparently successful attempt to clinch salary payments and development funds.

Workers at the National Oil Corporation, like other public-sector employees, have suffered because of a quasi-devaluation of the Libyan dinar, which has fueled inflation as Libya imports most of its food and other needs.

Some 50 to 60 workers at El Sharara, wearing blue jumpsuits, appeared in a video demanding a salary hike of 67 percent, a figure that the government decided in 2013.

That planned pay rise was never implemented. Soon after the government settled on the amount, public finances took a hit from a series of oilfield blockades by armed groups and protesters.

Workers at two other fields also posted pictures that show them demanding a pay increase, calling their movement “Sabaa Wa Steen”, the Arabic word for 67.

There has been no impact on oil production.

The El Sharara workers also complained about what they said was a three-month delay in salary payments and demanded the release of colleagues, including a foreigner, who were kidnapped by gunmen in July.

El Sharara, operated by NOC and foreign partners, has been pumping oil intermittently due to blockades mostly by armed groups and other incidents.

It is now controlled by the same state guards who had closed it in December, working with the Libyan National Army, which rivals the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli and took control of the south in a military campaign.