Libya’s parliament-backed PM says oil fields may restart soon

Hatem Mohareb and Ben Bartenstein May 11, 2022

(Bloomberg) — Libya’s parliament-backed prime minister said closed oil fields and ports in the OPEC country may soon reopen, though his rival’s energy minister said negotiations with protesters were proving difficult.

Fathi Bashagha, who Libyan lawmakers declared as prime minister in February, said late Tuesday that efforts to reopen oil facilities were “crowned with success” and that a militia in the east of the country had agreed to “lift its siege” on fields.

Libya’s crude production has slumped around 50% to 600,000 barrels a day in the past month after protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah forced the closure of fields such as Sharara, the nation’s biggest. Dbeibah has refused to stand down. Both he and Bashagha claim the premiership.

Mohamed Oun, Dbeibah’s oil minister, said talks were ongoing.

“We are facing some difficulties in reaching an agreement with protesters to reopen the oil,” Oun said in a text message to Bloomberg on Tuesday, hours before Bashagha’s Twitter statement. Libya’s losing $50 million to $60 million per day from the closures, Oun said.

Libya’s National Oil Corp., which controls operations at fields, hasn’t said when production or exports will return to normal.

The shutdowns are the latest in a series of disruptions to hit Libya’s energy sector amid the worsening political crisis. They come at a delicate time for global commodity markets, with oil having surged above $100 per barrel in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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