Libya’s El Sharara oilfield, which normally produces around 200,000 barrels per day, remains shut due to its main pipeline being closed, an official from the state-run National Oil Corporation said on Monday.
The field, one of the OPEC producer’s largest, was caught up in the country’s political struggle between rival armed factions earlier this month after gunmen forced a shutdown.
The commander of guards of El Sharara oilfield told Reuters his men had been forced out of the area by local tribes, some workers at the field and members of an armed faction allied to a group now controlling Tripoli.
He said his guards were waiting for negotiations with tribal elders to resolve the stand-off over El Sharara.
The fight over El Sharara is part of a wider struggle in Libya where competing armed groups and factions are vying for control and energy resources three years after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.
One group, Libya Dawn, allied to the city of Misrata, took over Tripoli after battles in the capital over the summer. It has since set up its own government and reinstated a former parliament to rival the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.
Since the fall of Tripoli to the Libya Dawn forces, Thinni’s government and the elected parliament have been operating out of the eastern city of Tobruk. The El Sharara guards are from Zintan forces, which are allied to Thinni’s government.
Reports from one Libyan industry source said the pipeline leading to the Zawiya port had been blocked in Zintan territory.
Since the end of Gaddafi’s one-man rule, Libya’s fledgling democracy has struggled to advance with heavily armed brigades of former rebels who once fought together against Gaddafi now competing with each other for power. (Reuters)