London — Libya's Es Sider is set to resume exports in the coming weeks, with the first cargo potentially being lifted by Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) during the first week of November, a source at NOC told S&P Global Platts on Thursday. Several trading sources active in the Libyan crude market also said they had heard similar news. This would be the first cargo lifted since force majeure was declared on loadings from Es Sider port in December 2014.
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Following the restart of production at the eastern Waha fields of around 50,000 b/d, whose pipelines feed into the main Eastern oil terminals Es Sider (320,000 b/d) and nearby Ras Lanuf (240,000 b/d) trading sources said that NOC has been planning to lift a cargo of Es Sider crude from Ras Lanuf terminal. "We hear it's an end of October-loading NOC cargo, and as far we know, they've not found a buyer yet," one sweet crude trader said.
"The laycan will be during the first [week] of November," said the NOC representative, adding that the Es Sider cargo will likely be lifted from nearby Ras Lanuf terminal. Ras Lanuf came out of force majeure on September 14 and several cargoes of Sirtica and Amna crudes have since been loaded over the course of the past month.
Loadings from Es Sider port remain suspended, due to infrastructure damage, including fire damage, that occurred during the civil war over the past few years and has not yet been repaired to enable crude exports.
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"There is maintenance work going on but how much, it's hard to say. There is no lifting plan yet -- but Es Sider could be lifted from both ports," said a sweet crude trader familiar with the situation. Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have a combined capacity of 560,000 b/d and are the largest and third largest ports in Libya, respectively.
A third crude trader active in Libya said that plans were underway to have Es Sider partially open soon, due to port restrictions by several equity holders of Es Sider. "The pipelines are pumping [some volume] to Es Sider, as they are trying to rehabilitate the port and get one tank working but it's been difficult because of the damage. But they have to as some American companies are not allowed to lift except out of Es Sider -- so they'll they have to send it there [eventually."
The trader added that production at the fields that feed into Es Sider was set to rise further. "It's still early stages but the target should be 70,000 b/d in November and December."
Crude production in Libya has increased over the past two months, rising to more than 580,000 b/d, according to the most recent NOC numbers. However, Libyan oil output has been volatile this year due to violence, political uncertainty, power shortages and technical problems, ranging at times between 230,000 b/d and 550,000 b/d, according to Platts estimates.
Despite the volatility, the return of Libya to the international oil markets has gained traction over the past month, with Austria's OMV, Spain's Repsol and China's Unipec seen as buyers of Libyan crude grades Amna, Sirtica and Zueitina, which until recently had seen production disrupted.
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