November 10, 2014 / 9:59 AM / 3 years ago

Libya's El Feel oil field shut down, third site within days

Oil infrastructure map and crude production chart of Libya.

BENGHAZI/CAIRO (Reuters) - An oil field in southwest Libya has closed down, officials said on Sunday, becoming the third oil facility in the chaotic country to shut within a week.

The El Feel field, operated by Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Italy’s ENI, shut down due to a power outage after armed men forced the closure of the major El Sharara field in south Libya last Wednesday, an NOC spokesman said.

OPEC member Libya is in turmoil as two governments and parliaments vie for legitimacy three years after the ouster of strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The internationally-recognized government works from Tobruk in the east since an armed group seized the capital Tripoli in August.

Libya hopes both closed fields, which share one power supplier, will resume work by Monday, said an NOC spokesman, which would gradually bring back up to 300,000 barrels a day.

“We expect El Feel and El Sharara to return to work on Sunday or Monday,” Harari said.

The El Sharara field, co-run by NOC and Spain’s Repsol, closed when gunmen stormed it, stealing vehicles and equipment. It has a capacity of 340,000 bpd but recently produced less as wells were lost due to two previous closures by protesters, according to previous Libyan comments.

The El Feel used to pump 80,000 bpd in the past but NOC has not provided any update recently.

Libyan state security guards have also blocked all exports from the eastern Hariga port, located in Tobruk near the Egyptian border, an oil official said on Saturday.

The protesters at Hariga are part of a state security oil force that has gone on strike over pay several times this year.

BOMB EXPLOSION

Libya is grappling with a sharply deteriorating security as the country is effectively controlled by former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi but now use their guns to fight for power.

At least one bomb exploded on Sunday in the eastern town of Shahat, where U.N. special envoy Bernadino Leon was meeting the internationally recognized Prime Minster Abdullah al-Thinni, said security officials who reported up to five people were slightly injured.

“According to our colleagues, no one at the meeting was hurt,” a U.N. spokesman said, contradicting that report. “The U.N. delegation has returned safely to Tunis.”

The United Nations has been trying to mediate between the conflict parties in Tripoli and the east but no progress has been reported publicly.

In the main eastern city of Benghazi, 300 people have been killed in three weeks of clashes. The recent turmoil has also lowered Libya’s oil exports to below 500,000 barrels per day, based on previous published figures.

In Tripoli, in the west, gunmen stormed a branch of Sahara commercial bank, robbing 1.7 million dinars ($1.3 million), a central bank spokesman said.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Feras Bosalum, Ahmed Elumami, Ulf Laessing and Louis Charbonnneau; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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