By Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 16 August 2013:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan today launched a fierce attack on protestors disrupting Libyan oil production and . . .[restrict]sales at four export terminals, which the government says have cost the country $1.6 billion in the last three weeks, as output tumbled below 400,000 b/d. June production had reportedly been nearer 1.3 million b/d.
Zeidan said that force would be used to end refinery blockades at Zueitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf and Sidra. Moreover, he vowed that any tanker approaching an export terminal to pick up an unauthorised crude shipment, might be fired on without warning.
The startling warning comes amid rumours that the regional commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, named as Ibrahim al-Jathran, whose members are striking over pay, was planning to sell oil independently. Oil traders have however told the Libya Herald that such an unauthorised lifting would be nigh impossible. Even if a tanker turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS), it could still be tracked and any refinery taking delivery of the cargo would be open to legal action.
The chaos brought about by the series of strikes and blockades, coinciding with Egyptian civil turmoil, has seen world oil prices pushed upwards. Today London Brent Crude for September delivery was up 24 cents at $110.44 a barrel.
National Oil Company chairman, Nuri Berruien, told Reuters that Libya could no longer guarantee supplies to its oil customers. He said however, that the September schedules “will be modified, not cancelled… because of the current sit-ins at ports and fields.”
Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi expanded the warning, saying many of Libya’s clients “are now searching for other providers.”
Despite his combative tone, Zeidan also made a point today of thanking those tribes and elders who had sought to intervene and reduce the tension around the multiple disruptions. [/restrict]