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Libya's Waha oil fields resume production after pipeline work


Samah/Dahra-Es Sider pipeline reopens after necessary repairs

200,000 b/d of output to return

PFG threatens to halt crude exports from three ports

London — Production from Libya's Waha oil fields has "gradually resumed" after repairs were completed on a key pipeline, state-owned National Oil Corporation said Jan. 25.

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Around 200,000 b/d of Libya crude output had been affected after the pipeline that connects the Samah and Dahra fields to the 350,000 b/d Es Sider terminal had been shut since Jan 23.

Ali el-Farsi, a spokesperson at the Waha Oil Company -- which operates the oil fields -- confirmed to S&P Global Platts that the work was completed.

"Yesterday [Jan. 24], they started pumping crude at the fields after they tested the flows on the pipeline and it is working normally," he said.

Libya holds Africa's largest proven reserves of oil, and its main light sweet Sharara and Es Sider export crudes yield a large proportion of middle distillates and gasoline, making it popular with refineries in the Mediterranean region and Northwest Europe.

Maintenance in the Waha fields was supposed to last 14 days, but NOC said that its subsidiary Waha Oil Company finished in record time.

NOC had said repairs were necessary for the pipeline as it was in a dilapidated condition.

A bulk of Libya's infrastructure is old and frail, having been by a civil war, militant and terrorist attacks, along with neglect over the last decade.

NOC has repeatedly said the lack of finance allocated for maintenance and repairs has made it difficult for it to maintain the assets.

The Waha oil fields in the Sirte Basin have the capacity to pump about 300,000 b/d, and are operated by NOC subsidiary Waha Oil Co.

The oil from these fields feeds into Libya's flagship Es Sider crude grade, whose exports have recently averaged 280,000 b/d, according to Platts.

Terminal strike starts

Disruption to Waha operations comes amid feud between NOC and the Central Bank of Libya on the distribution of oil revenues, which has resulted in a delay of salary payments.

A militia controlling three key terminals is threatening to shut down shipments in a long-festering dispute.

The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) militia group began a strike on Jan. 24 at the Ras Lanuf, Marsa el-Hariga and Es Sider terminals, demanding the immediate "disbursement of all salaries, health insurance payments, and other oilfield-related payments," it said in a statement.

Sources told Platts the PFG is currently in talks to with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to resolve the dispute.

The eastern PFG is loyal to the self-styled Libyan National Army and its leader, Khalifa Haftar, who is in opposition to the UN-backed Government of National Accord. The PFG has complained about a delay in salary payments for several months.

The dispute comes as Libyan crude and condensate output surged to around 1.25 million b/d earlier this month, its highest level in more than six years, after the GNA and LNA agreed a permanent UN-mediated ceasefire in late October.