Libya's Sharara, El Feel oilfields restart after pipeline protests end
By Ahmad Ghaddar and Ahmed Elumami
LONDON/TRIPOLI, April 27 (Reuters) - Libya's Sharara oilfield, with a production capacity of almost 300,000 barrels per day, has restarted after the end of protests by an armed group that had blocked pipelines there, a Libyan oil source and a local official said on Thursday.
No details were immediately available about current output at the field, which is operated by state oil firm NOC with Repsol, Total, Norway's Statoil and OMV. Traders said the field restarted early on Thursday.
The Libyan oil source said El Feel oilfield, with a capacity of about 90,000 bpd, had also restarted. El Feel and Wafa field condensate make up the Mellitah blend which is exported from Mellitah terminal operated by NOC and Italy's ENI.
Restarting Sharara will be a major advance for plans by the North African state and OPEC member to bring oil production back to more than 1 million bpd after years of protests, attacks and fighting battered the industry.
Oil security in Libya remains fragile and attempts to negotiate with groups who periodically block and close down pipelines to make political demands have fallen through in the past as rival factions compete for power.
Mohamed Almahdi Alnajeh, a member of the local Zintan region elders council, told Reuters they had negotiated with the group blocking the pipeline, reaching a deal to lift the protest. The protesters were told to take up demands with the NOC, he said.
The Sharara blockade was the latest in a series of disputes. Protesters blocked a pipeline leading from Sharara in March. The protests ended in early April but resumed a week later, halting NOC's plans to raise production there to 270,000 bpd.
Libya's oil production has been hit by protests, Islamist militant attacks and fighting among rival military factions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 sent the country spiraling into turmoil.
Before the civil war, Libya produced 1.6 million bpd.
National oil production stood around 700,000 bpd recently after two major oil ports reopened. NOC was aiming to raise national output to 1.1 million bpd by August, but has said shutdowns could push that target date back.
(Additional reporting by Julia Payne in London; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Edmund Blair) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +213-661-692993; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))