Libya's Hariga port to resume exports within days-oil official

BENGHAZI, Libya Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:57pm EST

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BENGHAZI, Libya Dec 27 (Reuters) - Libya's eastern Hariga port will resume oil exports within days after authorities reached an agreement with protesters to end four months of blockage, an oil official said on Friday.

Tribesmen and other protesters have occupied Hariga, located in Tobruk in the far east of Libya, since August to press for political and financial demands despite several government attempts to reopen the terminal.

A reopening of the export port would be a victory for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan who has been trying to end blockages of oil ports and fields, which have reduced Libya's oil output to 250,000 bpd from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Hariga has an export capacity of 110,000 barrels per day and also serves the Tobruk oil refinery.

There was no immediate confirmation from the government which has repeatedly announced Hariga would reopen. But in a sign of progress state National Oil Corp (NOC) said last week that the 20,000 barrels a day-Tobruk refinery had resumed work.

Mohamed Ben Shatwan, head of Arabian Gulf Oil Co (AGOCO) operating Hariga port, told Reuters an agreement had been reached to restart the export terminal.

"A ship is docked at the port, and exports will resume within days," Shatwan said in the eastern city of Benghazi, adding that oil from the Sarir field had already been pumped to the port.

Last week, the government had expected a heavily armed autonomy group in eastern Libya to lift the blockage of the Ras Lanuf, Es-Sider and Zueitina ports previously accounting for 600,000 bpd after tribal elders pressured it.

But autonomy leader Ibrahim Jathran declared at the last minute that talks with Tripoli to get a greater share of oil revenues for the east had failed.

Jathran's and other militias in the east helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising but have kept their weapons, fuelling concerns about instability in the North African country. (Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing, editing by William Hardy)

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