By Sami Zaptia.
London, 20 July 2019:
Libya’s state National Oil Corporation (NOC) confirmed this morning that 290k bpd of oil production at the Sharara oil field is currently offline.
It stated that NOC teams were investigating “a suspected closed valve/valves” in the Hamada area.
It added that a full scale investigation is underway and assured that production at the El Feel oil field is unaffected.
The NOC was rather vague in its statement that there might be “a suspected closed valve/valves”. If it was an obvious technical problem, it would have probably been less vague in its statement.
This has already led to speculation that production has been stopped by some kind of protest by southern Libyans.
It will be recalled that there were protests at the Sharara oilfield yesterday from the Anger of Fezzan Movement after it said that one of its members was banned from the Haj pilgrimage by authorities for taking part in peaceful protests.
A week ago the Anger of Fezzan Movement also protested at Sharara oil field against the disproportionately long power cuts experienced in southern Libya.
They were particularly angered by the fact that their nearby and local Ubari power plant had started operating yet the extremely long local power cuts had continued as usual.
Local news sources had reported that there was an attempt by protesters at the time to shut down the oil field, but they reported that this was prevented by the Khalifa Hafter Libyan National Army (LNA).
It will also he recalled that the Man-Made River (MMR) water to western Libya and Tripoli had been shutdown last week twice by armed protesters – presumed to be southern Libyans – protesting at overly long power cuts. They had forced MMR workers to divert power to the south of Libya.
If confirmed, the production showdown would be a big loss of production and revenue to Libya’s struggling state coffers – especially with the added needs of the costs of waging a war.
It will be recalled that the NOC reported a drop in production/revenues for June attributed to power cuts.
The production drop was a month-on-month decrease of US$ 580 million or 25 per cent, resulting in half-year revenues for 2019 of US$ 10.3 billion – a year-on-year decrease of 11.25 percent.
If production was indeed shutdown by protesters, it confirms the continuing post 2011 phenomenon of the use of state institutions for the expression of protest and grievances.
It will be recalled that electricity, water and oil facilities have been used often since the 2011 revolution by various protesters as a means of leverage and expression of protest.
Water supply slow to arrive in Tripoli due to protesting militias