CAIRO – Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on exports from its Sharara oilfield on Tuesday, saying an armed group had shut production again just days after it had resumed.
The armed group, led by Mohamed Khalifa, stormed the field late on Monday and instructed employees at gunpoint to shut it early on Tuesday, the NOC said, days after the field had restarted following another blockade.
Sharara field, one of Libya’s largest production areas, has regularly been a target since Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising in 2011 that has split the North African country and led to years of political chaos and violence.
Khalifa heads one of the forces affiliated with Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) that blockaded most of Libya’s oil in January. His forces have been retreating after their campaign to capture the capital, Tripoli, fell apart.
Production at Sharara, which previously had output of around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), had been resuming gradually since Saturday after the reopening of a pipeline valve that had been closed since January due to the earlier blockade.
Sharara field had not been itself been blockaded in the previous incident, although NOC said an armed militia had prevented maintenance on a 16,000-barrel tank, which collapsed as a result.
NOC said the latest shutdown would cause further technical damage.
NOC runs Sharara in a joint venture with Spain’s Repsol, France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Norway’s Equinor.
NOC had announced the lifting of force majeure on production at Sharara and at El Feel field on Monday.