UPDATE 1-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 (Updates MAY 17 story with new NOC comment on return to arbitration)
By Aidan Lewis
TRIPOLI, May 17 (Reuters) - The head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he was determined to fend off an attempt by the U.N.-backed government to appropriate energy sector powers and said settling a dispute with Germany's Wintershall over a contract was a "top priority".
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla also told Reuters 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 it was expected to return to its "normal" level of 800,000-820,000 bpd over the next two days.
At about 800,000 bpd, production is more than three times higher mid-2016 levels but half what OPEC member's output before a 2011 uprising plunged the North African nation into chaos.
Since 2011, NOC has had to navigate conflict, blockades and a political split between eastern and western-based factions as it tries to revive its operations. Continued...