TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Three major oil exporting terminals in eastern Libya shut down by political protests last week have restarted, and some of the production blocked by the move has resumed, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Sunday.
Local militia on Thursday enforced a 48-hour stoppage to protest against Saturday’s election of a national assembly they complain does not adequately represent Libya’s eastern region, slated to get 60 of the 200 seats.
The election went ahead despite violent protests on the day.
The stoppages at El-Sider, Ras Lanuf and Brega shut half of Libya’s oil exporting capacity. Production of around 1.6 million barrels a day was also cut by 300,000 bpd as a result of the blockages at the terminals.
“Ships are loading and, from last night, some fields have restarted production,” NOC Chairman Nuri Berruien told Reuters by telephone. “Hopefully within 24 hours everything will be back to normal levels.”
The 48-hour shutdown prevented oil tankers that were ready to sail from leaving ports on Friday, prompting local agents to warn oil companies that vessels scheduled to load crude over the weekend might have to drop anchor until terminals were reopened.
Libya has Africa’s largest proven oil reserves. The three ports that closed have a combined export capacity of around 690,000 bpd.
Production has recovered swiftly after grinding to a near halt during last year’s uprising against ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi. Exports have exceeded pre-war rates because Libya’s largest refinery is still offline, freeing up oil for export.