Vienna — Libya's vulnerable El Feel, or Elephant, oil field has been shut down again, this time by what state-owned National Oil Corporation said was an "unlawful valve closure" on an export pipeline.
The closure is causing a loss of 73,000 b/d, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told reporters Thursday in Vienna, where he is attending an OPEC meeting.
In a statement, he called on local leaders and authorities to identify the offenders and prosecute them.
"This is another criminal attempt to disturb the work of NOC and it harms the Libyan economy," Sanalla said.
The El Feel field in the southwest of the country has been a flashpoint in a tug-of-war between rival groups vying for control of Libya's oil facilities. The field has a capacity of 90,000 b/d but had been producing 73,000 to 75,000 b/d in recent weeks.
Just last Wednesday, the field was shut for a day after the Libyan National Army launched air strikes at a militia force loyal to the UN-backed government that had seized the field.
El Feel is operated by Mellitah Oil and Gas Company, a joint venture between NOC and Italy's Eni. Crude from ElFeel and the nearby Sharara field is pumped to the 120,000 b/d Zawiya refinery and export terminal on Libya's far west coast.
Despite the conflict, oil output in Libya has been rising and exports have been largely steady.
Libya plans to maintain its crude production at current levels of between 1.25 million and 1.3 million b/d, Sanalla said Wednesday. He added that he hoped Libya would be allowed to maintain its exemption if the OPEC+ production cuts are extended beyond their March expiry.
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