Libyan protesters end blockade at Waha Oil field

TRIPOLI, March 29 Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:48am EDT

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TRIPOLI, March 29 (Reuters) - Libyan protesters have ended a nearly three-week blockade of an oil and gas field belonging to Waha Oil after the oil minister resolved their demands for jobs, a company official said on Friday.

About 100 men from the nearby town of Jalu had blocked access to the Gialo 59 field, south of Benghazi, since March 11, affecting drilling and output, to back demands that oil service contractors there use locally hired vehicles and drivers.

A union source said on Monday some 11 drilling sites had been affected by the blockade, the latest disruption to Libya's energy sector after the war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

"The protesters have now left. A team of them had gone to Tripoli to meet Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi, who found a solution to the problem," Taher Marfuaa, a field controller at Gialo 59, told Reuters by telephone.

He did not say exactly how the dispute had been settled at the field, which has a capacity of 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 70 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Waha is a joint venture between Libya's national oil corporation and U.S. companies Marathon, Hess Corp and ConocoPhillips.

Disruptions have affected the OPEC member's efforts to return to pre-war production levels of 1.6 million bpd, although output has recovered faster than expected. In July protesters forced the closure of three major oil terminals.

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