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Forced shutdown of Libya's largest oil field would be 'catastrophic': NOC

London — Production from Libya's largest oil field is under threat due to a protest from the Petroleum Facilities Guards and a forced closure would have "catastrophic" consequences, the state-owned National Oil Corporation warned late-Saturday.

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"A shutdown of the Sharara field would result in a production loss of 315,000 b/d, with a knock-on effect of 73,000 b/d at El Feel due to its dependence on Sharara electricity supply," NOC said in a statement.

NOC warned that the forced closure would have "devastating" consequences affecting the country's economy, other nearby upstream and downstream projects and exacerbate a local fuel supply crisis.

This comes as Libya's oil production has fallen sharply over the past few weeks as bad weather hit output and exports at its key oil facilities.

On December 5, all of its oil export terminals were shut but by December 7 all terminals reopened, according to a NOC spokesman.

Security problems continue to plague the Libyan oil sector, which has seen dramatic swings in production over the past few years, as rival militias vie for power and control of fields.

"Supply to the Zawiya refinery would also be affected. This would equate to a combined daily cost to the Libyan economy of $32.5 million. The oilfield at present remains open," added the organization. The NOC has termed the protests by PFG who threatened employees to shut down production as an "occupation".

Late last week, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said Libyan production was averaging around 900,000 b/d, down around 300,000 b/d due to the rough weather.

Libya pumped 1.05 million b/d in November, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey, far below its pre-2011 capacity of 1.6 million b/d.

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

-- Edited by Paul Hickin, newsdesk@spglobal.com