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NOC confirms resumption of output at Libyan El Feel oil field

Highlights

Production was shut-in due to clashes, air strikes

Nearby Sharara field remains on high alert

London — Oil production at Libya's El Feel field in the southwest of the country restarted Thursday after clashes and air strikes between rival powers had shut down the key facility, state-owned National Oil Corporation said in a statement.

The 90,000 b/d capacity oil field in the Murzuq Basin is the latest flashpoint as two rival powers -- the forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army -- have engaged in a civil war since April. The field was producing around 75,000 b/d earlier this year.

NOC confirmed production had resumed after it was shuttered after the LNA carried out air strikes at the site and regained control of the field.

"No NOC employees were harmed. Facilities sustained some minor damage but workers were able to resume production once conditions were deemed safe," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said.

On Wednesday, a militia force loyal to the GNA had entered the key oil field, which has been under the control of the LNA since February.

The LNA regained full control of the facility by Thursday morning and the oil pumps were turned back on, sources added.

Sanalla warned that more military activity at NOC's key oil fields would force it to halt output.

"Any fighting in the vicinity of any of our facilities forces us to cease production, in order to ensure the safety of our employees. When production ceases, all Libyans lose out," he added.

Security concerns

El Feel, or Elephant field, is operated by Mellitah Oil and Gas Co., a joint venture between NOC and Italy's Eni. Crude from El Feel and the nearby Sharara field is pumped into the 120,000 b/d Zawiya refinery and export terminal on Libya's far west coast.

This incident once again shows how prone Libya's oil infrastructure remains due to the civil unrest in the country.

There are concerns that military activity could spread to the 300,000 b/d Sharara field, which is around 60 km (37 miles) from the El Feel site.

Despite the conflict, oil output in Libya has been rising, and exports have been largely steady, as almost all of Libya's key oil terminals and infrastructure, especially those in the east of the country, are already controlled by the LNA.

Libya's crude output averaged 1.04 million b/d over January-October, compared with 948,333 b/d in 2018 and 807,500 b/d in 2017, according to the S&P Global Platts OPEC survey.

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

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com