Wintershall says has halted onshore oil production in Libya

FRANKFURT Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:05pm EST

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German oil and gas company Wintershall, part of the BASF (BASFn.DE) group, has been forced to halt oil production in Libya as exports remain disrupted by protestors seizing shipping ports.

Libya's oil exports have been running at a fraction of the levels seen earlier this year of more than 1 million barrels per day.

"Due to the continuing blockade of oil export facilities on the coast Wintershall had to halt onshore production several weeks ago," Wintershall said in an e-mailed statement, confirming an earlier report by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

Libya's government is struggling to cope with protesters who have taken over eastern oil ports and a western terminal in pursuit of political demands for more rights and better conditions.

This week oil exports from Libya's western Mellitah port resumed after protests ended, but there appeared to be no breakthrough at other facilities.

"It is currently unclear when the blockade of export terminals will be lifted and how quickly production in the Libyan desert can resume," Wintershall said, adding its offshore Libyan production remained unaffected.

Until Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power in 2011 Wintershall was the second largest foreign oil firm in Libya behind Italy's ENI (ENI.MI), with the country accounting for three-quarters of its total oil output.

Austrian oil and gas group OMV (OMVV.VI) also said last week its production in Libya continued to be interrupted.

(Reporting by Frank Siebelt; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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