Libya's NOC keeps force majeure in place at eastern oil ports

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2014 1:42 PM

By Julia Payne

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) has yet to lift force majeure at the eastern ports of Zueitina and Hariga following a deal with federalist rebels to reopen them after a nine-month blockade, an oil ministry official said on Tuesday.

"Force majeure is still in place, it has not been lifted. NOC has not instructed the ports to export oil yet," Ibrahim al-Awami said.

Al Awami said staff at Arabian Gulf Oil Co (AGOCO), which runs the Hariga terminal, had joined a general strike in Benghazi that began on Sunday. It was unclear whether this would affect the port's ability to resume exports.

Workers at Zueitina were carrying out maintenance and checking facilities before the resumption of exports, Al Awami said. Production at Zueitina has still not resumed due to these checks but exports could start as there is about 2-3 million barrels of crude in storage.

One shipping source familiar with the matter said it would take some 10 days to get ready as one of the crude grades, Bu Attifel, needs to be heated to reach the required pour point.

Zueitina, another lighter grade, could easily by exported, the source said.

An eastern federalist group led by Ibrahim Jathran is still blockading the biggest oil terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, pending further negotiations with NOC.

Only the western offshore oilfields Bouri and Al Jurf were producing and exporting as usual. Crude from the only open port in the east was being sent to the Zawiya refinery, to make up for the still-closed southwestern El Sharara oilfield, which normally feeds it.

The refinery is operating at a reduced capacity of around 80,000 bpd, compared with its usual 120,000 bpd, after NOC was forced to stop output at the El Sharara field in February due to protests. The western El Feel and El Wafa fields were also closed due to similar on-going protests in March.

(Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Keiron Henderson, Dale Hudson and David Evans)