London — Libya's NOC has lifted force majeure on operations at the Sharara field after almost three months following the removal of an armed group that had occupied the site, the state-owned company said Monday.
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Production at the country's largest oil field "is expected to resume within the next few hours, with regular output to be reached over the coming days," NOC said in a statement.
This paves the way for Libya to boost production to over 1 million b/d for the first time since early-December.
"NOC has received assurances that site security has been restored, verified by our own inspection team, enabling staff to return to work," Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of NOC, said.
The field has been shuttered since December 8, 2018, after armed groups, with the help of local people, occupied its site in protest at economic conditions and frequent power outages in the south of the country.
But in early-February, General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army captured the Sharara field after clashes with forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord in the southwest of the country.
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NOC said the blockade had cost it $1.8 million and that plans "are also in place to repair the 20,000 b/d lost production capacity destroyed by looting and vandalism."
Last week, NOC officials had traveled to UAE to meet with a number of Libyan and international parties in the UAE to discuss security measures necessary to solve the crisis. Libya's oil industry has been at the mercy of groups vying for control of valuable assets, with armed attacks on key pipelines and production facilities since the 2011 civil war.
NOC said Akakus Oil, a joint venture between NOC, Spain's Repsol, Norway's Equinor and Austria's OMV, which operates the field, had "received written assurance from the officials from the Libya National Army "that all individuals subject to Public Prosecutor arrest warrant have been removed from the field and will not be readmitted to the site."
"Additional security measures for on-site staff are being implemented, with perimeter security and safe "green zones" a priority," the statement said.
Crude output recovered in 2018 to an over five-year high of 1.1 million b/d, even though security and political challenges continued to impede the sector. Production fell back to 850,000 b/d in January, the lowest since July, due to the Sharara outage, according to the most recent S&P Global Platts OPEC Survey.
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