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Abu Attifel oil field restarts as Libya pumps over 500,000 b/d: sources

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Abu Attifel oil field restarts as Libya pumps over 500,000 b/d: sources

Highlights

Zueitina fields will be next to reopen, says sources

Sharara producing around 160,000 b/d

Strong demand for Libyan crude from Med refiners

London — Abu Attifel is the latest oil field in Libya to restart as the recovery in the OPEC member's production starts to pick up speed, industry and trading sources said Oct. 20.

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Libya's crude and condensate output has more than quadrupled over the past month, averaging just over 500,000 b/d on Oct. 20 as some key fields in the southwest and southeast have restarted operations, sources added.

Production has been on a steep upswing since Sept. 18, when the UN-backed Government of National Accord and the self-styled Libya National agreed a peace deal that lifted the eight-month-long oil blockade.

The 70,000 b/d Abu Attifel field restarted late on Oct. 19 and output is expected to ramp up gradually in the first week, sources said. The Abu Atiifel crude grade is exported via pipeline from the Zueitina terminal.

The 70,000 Zueitina fields (103a, 103c, 102d) will be the next to restart, sources added.

Production has rebounded impressively in the past two weeks following the restart of Libya's largest oil field Sharara.

Sharara was pumping close to 160,000 b/d this week and sources said production was likely to be reach 250,000 b/d within seven to 10 days.

Strong demand

Around 140,000 b/d of Sharara crude has already been allocated for export in November, according to traders, a sign that Libya's output recovery will be faster than first expected. Sharara crude is exported from the Zawiya terminal which is connected to the field by a pipeline.

The Aframax Aegean Nobility will load a 600,000-barrel cargo from Zawiya on Oct. 25, destined for a Mediterranean refiner, shipping sources said, which will be the first scheduled export since the field restarted.

Despite low refining margins, European refiners have shown a strong appetite for Libya's light sweet crude.

Sources said Libyan oil was also trading at a slight discount to other Mediterranean light sweet crude, which has made it more appealing.

"Libyan production is getting back and this is weighing on the Med sweet [crude] complex," a crude oil trader said. "Lots of Med buyers have put shopping on hold to get a chance with prompt Libyan crude, which has slowed down trades on Med sweet alternatives and values as well."

Libya holds Africa's largest proven reserves of oil, and its main light sweet Es Sider and Sharara export crudes are sought after for their gasoline and middle distillate yields by refineries in the Mediterranean and Northwest Europe.

Export surge

Libyan crude exports have also climbed steeply, with loadings from the Zawiya terminal to resume this week.

Libya is expected to export almost 550,000 b/d next month, according to shipping data seen by S&P Global Platts.

State-owned National Oil Corp. was unavailable for comment.

Libya exported 180,000 b/d in September, its highest monthly volume since January, data from intelligence firm Kpler showed.

But exports are forecast to rise to 400,000 b/d in October, according to Kpler.

These include loadings from the Farwah floating production, storage and offloading vessel as well as the Bouri, Zawiya, Mellitah, Brega, Marsa el-Hariga and Zueitina terminals.

The key eastern oil terminals of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, however, remained closed as NOC has not lifted force majeure from these ports due to the presence of armed groups there.

Status of Libya's key oil terminals (b/d)

Terminal
Grades
Export capacity
Status *
Mellitah
Mellitah Blend, Wafa Condensate
90,000
Open
Bouri
Bouri
30,000
Open
Farwah FPSO
Al Jurf
30,000
Open
Zawiya
Sharara
250,000
Open
Es Sider
Es Sider
300,000
Closed
Ras Lanuf
Sirtica, Amna, Sir, Mesla
250,000
Closed
Marsa el-Brega
Brega, Sirtica
60,000
Open
Marsa el-Hariga
Sarir, Mesla
120,000
Open
Zueitina
Abu Attifel, Zueitina
90,000
Open

*Status as of Oct. 20.

Source: S&P Global Platts