Libya’s Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports to be opened, says government

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State-run National Oil Corp (NOC) has announced, this week, to resume exports from two major eastern Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports, which have been previously held by rebels following the end of an almost year-long blockage.

The reopening of the two ports would restore part of oil output fallen to a trickle of the 1.4mn barrels a day the Opec member used to pump last summer, when a wave of protests started.

This comes after the government lifted force majeure from the two ports after the rebels agreed, last week, to end a blockade to press financial and political demands. The waiver of contractual obligations had been imposed last summer when a wave of protests at oil facilities broke out.

“Force majeure has been lifted at 1500,” said Mohamed El Harari, a spokesman for NOC, adding that Libya’s current output is running at 325,000 cubic tonnies.

“The marketing department has been instructed to start exporting oil from all Libyan oil ports.” He said

The state-oil firm had declared force majeure, a waiver of contractual obligations, when the rebels seized the ports last year.

However, experts say it will be easy to sell oil from port storages but it will take some time to restart production as the connecting fields and pipelines are likely to require maintenance work after standing idle for eleven months. Both ports used to export around 500,000 bpd before the closure.

On the other hand, Ali al-Ahrash, commander of the state Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) in charge of protecting oil facilities said the ports were now fully under government control.

“The situation at the two ports is safe and the National Oil Corp can resume work at Rasp Lanuf and Es Sider.” He told the press.

Disputes over Libya’s vast oil resources have been among the many triggers for conflict between rival brigades of former rebels and allied political factions since civil war ended four decades of Muammar Gaddafi’s one-man rule in 2011.