INTERVIEW-Libya's NOC chief defiant in dispute with Tripoli government, Wintershall
* Says battling to protect oil sector from interference
* Working to resolve Wintershall dispute, fix infrastructure
* National production has more than tripled since last year
By Aidan Lewis
TRIPOLI, May 17 (Reuters) - The head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) is determined to fend off an attempt by the U.N.-backed government to appropriate energy sector powers, and says settling a related dispute with Germany's Wintershall is a "top priority".
In an interview with Reuters, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla also said output from NOC subsidiary Waha Oil Co could rise by some 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) in coming weeks and that staff had returned to parts of the Sirte basin for the first time in more than two years.
National output dipped this week due a power outage affecting Messla and Sarir oil fields and on Wednesday stood at 683,000 bpd, Sanalla said, but was expected to return to its "normal" level of 800,000-820,000 bpd over the next two days.
That is more than three times higher than Libya's output in mid-2016, though just half of what the OPEC member was producing before its 2011 uprising. The NOC has had to navigate local blockades, conflict, and a political split between eastern and western-based factions as it tries to revive its operations.
It pledged to work with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) when it arrived in Tripoli last year. But relations soured over NOC budget payment disputes, and after the GNA's leadership issued a decree this year granting itself powers over energy contracts. Continued...