Libya PM says seeks peaceful end to oil strikes

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2013 12:02 PM
Libya PM says seeks peaceful end to oil strikes

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya is seeking a peaceful way to end oil strikes that have crippled its crude exports but will take alternative action if needed, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Wednesday.

"We will take other measures if these peaceful measures do not succeed," he told a news conference, without elaborating.

Libya's oil production has fallen to about a fifth of the highs reached since its 2011 civil war due to a month-long disruption by armed security guards who shut the country's main export ports.

Zeidan said he had talked to tribal leaders in the east, the focus of oil sector disruption, and they rejected calls for partition of the country.

"They respect the legality and unity of the nation," he said.

Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi on Tuesday blamed mainly non-oil workers and agitators pushing for federalism in Libya for the strikes, which he said had cost the country $2 billion in lost revenues so far.

"These groups announced federalism and they don't recognize the government nor the general national council," the minister said.

The oil ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and Marsa al Hariga, which are in the east where most of the country's oil production lies, remained closed.

Zeidan said he hoped there would be a breakthrough soon in talks to resolve the crisis but gave no indication of when oil output might be restored.

Libya's oil production has been cut to 250,000 barrels per day, he said, from prewar levels of 1.6 million bpd.

The latest fall in Libyan output was caused by an armed group that shut a pipeline linking the El Feel and El Sahara fields to ports late on Monday. The two fields have a combined output capacity of around 500,000 bpd.

Zeidan said the eastern Hamada field was also closed. The field had been pumping 10,000 bpd.

(Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Writing by Will Hardy; Editing by Dale Hudson)