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Libya's crude oil output hit by Sharara security fears: sources

Denver — Libya's crude oil output has dipped again due to the deteriorating security situation around its largest oil field, Sharara, sources said Tuesday.

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Sources with knowledge of Libya's production said an increase in local militia activity in the past week led to some oil workers evacuating fields. Crude output in Libya had recently touched five-year highs at a critical time for global markets ahead of the imposition of US sanctions on Iran.

By the end of last week, the Sharara field was producing around 250,000 b/d. However, output is expected to have dropped over the last two days because of security concerns. In September, Sharara was producing around 300,000 b/d.

Libya's oil and gas infrastructure

Concerns over security around the field come as international oil companies BP and Eni alongside National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced their intention to resume exploration activities in the war-torn country.

Sharara -- a joint venture between state-owned NOC and a consortium of Total, Repsol, Statoil and OMV -- has seen several closures over the past few years due to worker protests and attacks on export pipelines.

Meanwhile, sources indicated to S&P Global Platts that the situation remains tense around Sharara and security issues have hindered travel arrangements to and from the fields.

NOC shut Sharara mid-July after gunmen entered a substation and kidnapped four staff members. The state producer also declared force majeure on crude oil exports from Zawiya at the time.

Representatives at NOC were unavailable for comment.

Libya's oil output hit 1.05 million b/d in September, its highest level since June 2013, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC production survey.

In an interview to S&P Global Platts last month, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla admitted security concerns and a lack of foreign investment would continue to weigh on attempts to increase output.

Sanalla was forced to flee NOC's headquarters in Tripoli after the building came under attack from gunmen.

-- Staff Reports with Eklavya Gupte, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com