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The major Sharara oil field in the southwest of Libya restarted production late Tuesday, but output is not expected to ramp up quickly given how long the field was shut in, an industry source said Wednesday.

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Sharara has a capacity of 340,000 b/d, so even a slow increase in output would give Libya's crisis-hit oil sector a major boost.

"But it won't be a quick ramp-up this one," the source said, adding: "It was down for a long time."

"It will not be at full capacity for weeks, or even months," the source said.

Protesters have blockaded the pipeline linking Sharara to the export terminal of Zawiya on Libya's western Mediterranean coast for much of 2014, causing production at the field to be shut down. Output has resumed before several times, but was quickly shut in again as the unrest across Libya continued to impact on field operations. The Sharara field is operated by a joint venture between NOC and Spain's Repsol. First exports of Sharara out of Zawiya may also take some time to organize, the source said.

On Tuesday, NOC said total Libyan crude oil production has risen further to an average of 326,000 b/d as hopes remain high of a recovery in both output and exports following the lifting of force majeure at the major eastern ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf.

Output is slowly ramping up from lows of just 150,000 b/d last month, though it remains well below the 1.5 million-1.6 million b/d Libya was producing before the current spate of unrest began in May 2013.

--Stuart Elliott,
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles,