By Jamal Adel.
Kufra, 6 November 2014:
Production at the Akakus Oil operated Sharara oilfield has ceased following attacks yesterday . . .[restrict]by a Tuareg militia aligned with Libya Dawn.
“The production has fallen to zero,” a senior official at Sharara said. He explained that the chaos of the Tuareg attacks had blocked roads making the field inaccessible to some workers. “Some employees are unable to reach the field and some others are locked in, afraid to leave,” he said.
Yesterday the marauding gunmen stormed Sharara stealing some 20 vehicles belonging to Akakus Oil and making off with computers and documents belonging to the company.
The attackers surprised Zintani Petroleum Facilities Guards at the oil field and left no chance for armed confrontation. The Tuareg militiamen are believed to be linked with other Tuareg fighters involved in clashes in Obari some 60 kilometres away. While the gunmen appear to have left the immediate area, Sharara remains vulnerable to another attack.
The closing of the oil field, a joint venture between Spain’s Repsol and the National Oil Corporation (NOC), is a massive blow to the country’s oil production. Sharara’s 350,000 barrels per day accounted for more than a third of national production which has recently stood at less than 800,000 b/d.
Oil started flowing from Sharara in July after on and off closures of more than a year and a half.
The development will cast doubts on whether national production can withstand current instability in the country. Output has actually increased since August in spite of a surge in violence. The boosted production came about because of the reopening of eastern oil terminals. After the revolution, to general surprise, Libyan output approached 1.7 million b/d and was confidently expected to pass the two million barrel mark early this year.