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Libyan oil terminals reopen as weather improves: source

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Key oil ports had been closed for almost a week

Sharara field remains shut in, El Feel still open

Strong demand despite loading delays

London — Libya reopened all of its oil terminals Thursday after they were shut for almost a week due to bad weather, a source close to the matter told S&P Global Platts.

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But inclement weather along with ongoing security issues at the country's largest oil field Sharara mean that the OPEC member's crude production remains much below the coveted 1 million b/d mark.

The North African country's crude exports have fallen recently as rough weather shut in loadings at its key oil terminals.

But the source said that crude exports had resumed this morning after the reopening of the ports.

Some sources said that Libyan production would have also been slightly affected due to the closing of the ports as these terminals have limited storage capacity. State-owned National Oil Corporation declined to comment on current production levels.

In early December, Libyan key oil ports were also closed for almost a week shutting in almost 150,000 b/d of production.

PRODUCTION OUTAGES

Libya's crude oil exports and production have also been down as its largest oil field Sharara remains shut-in since early-December due to security issues.

Output at the Sharara field has been shut in since December 8 after armed groups, along with the help of local people, occupied the site. They were protesting about the economic conditions and frequent power outages the south of the country has been facing.

Forces loyal to Libya National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar are on their way to secure the Sharara field.

The 75,000 b/d El Feel field however remains operational despite NOC saying last month that the Sharara outage would also affect production at nearby fields.

Libya produced a three-month low of 970,000 b/d in December, according to the latest Platts OPEC production survey.

LOADING DELAYS

Trading sources said Libyan crude oil loadings have been experiencing delays of around four to 10 days in the past few weeks.

Weather has been a factor throughout the last couple of trading cycles for a number of the eastern-loading crude grades, including flagship crude Es Sider.

"There have been delays, all weather-related -- for Es Sider, it's been at various points in December and January. But it's a larger phenomenon -- that we're seeing all along the Med [this week] and it's just been a nightmare," said one Mediterranean crude trader.

Despite this, medium sweet gasoil-rich Es Sider has been a grade of choice for many Mediterranean refineries in recent sessions, due to improving distillate margins.

The fact that the grade is also situated outside of the Black Sea has also made a more attractive option, as some refineries opt for it over Russia's Urals or Siberian Light crude, which have been subject to extensive delays through the Turkish Straits in January.

On Wednesday, Platts assessed Es Sider at Dated Brent minus 80 cents/b, which is currently 30 cents/b above its January OSP of Dated Brent minus $1.10/b.

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

--Gillian Carr, gillian.carr@spglobal.com

--Peter Farrell, peter.farrell@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com