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Libya's NOC lifts force majeure on Sharara crude loadings

London — Libya's National Oil Corporation said Monday it has lifted the force majeure on Sharara crude oil loadings from the Zawiya terminal after the country's largest oil field was shut in for two days following the closure of a valve by an unidentified party.

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NOC said the valve was reopened late Sunday and that production restarted early Monday morning, with a gradual return to normal levels expected.

Around 290,000 b/d of production at the Sharara oil field was forced offline as the valve was closed by an unidentified group near Hamada and Zawiya. NOC said the incident highlights the deteriorating security conditions in the region.

"The valve had been closed by unidentified group on Friday. Tests were conducted along the pipeline... to ensure all valves are now working," NOC said in a statement. "NOC reiterates its condemnation of this as yet unclaimed deliberate act of sabotage. Relevant authorities are continuing their search for the perpetrators."

The country remains embroiled in a protracted civil war as the self-styled Libyan National Army, forces loyal to the UN-backed government and other militia groups have clashed regularly in the past three months.

SECURITY RISK

In early July, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla warned that 700,000 b/d of Libya?s crude output was at risk if the international community did not intervene in the current conflict.

The LNA has taken control of most of Libya?s oil-producing areas but its attempt to seize the capital, Tripoli, from the government has stalled, with fighting escalating in recent weeks.

The Sharara field was shuttered for almost three months from early December to late February when 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.

There has been growing concern about deteriorating economic conditions among locals in the southwest part of the country where the Sharara field is located.

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.

Crude output recovered recently to a more than five-year high of 1.1 million b/d, even though security and political challenges continued to impede the sector.

Libya pumped 1.08 million b/d in June, a fall of 40,000 b/d from the previous month, according to the most recent Platts OPEC survey. Technical issues as well as maintenance at some oil infrastructure pushed output lower.

--Eklavya Gupte, eklavya.gupte@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com