Libya to export first oil since rebel deal
LONDON (Reuters) - A tanker is due to load 1 million barrels of crude on Tuesday from Libya's reopened Hariga port, its first export shipment since a deal to end months of closures at its main oil terminals, the National Oil Corp. (NOC) said.
The outages have raised supply concerns on global markets and helped support the price of Brent crude futures. Brent fell toward under $109 a barrel on Tuesday on the developments in Libya.
The tanker, Aegean Dignity, is due to take its load to Italy, NOC quoted an oil official as saying in a statement on its website. Reuters AIS Live ship tracking showed the Aegean Dignity moving close to the Libyan coast.
NOC lifted force majeure on Hariga port in the far east of the country last week following a deal between the Libyan government and federalist rebels who have blockaded the country's central and eastern terminals for eight months, depriving the state of the oil revenues on which it relies.
Production at the oilfields feeding the Hariga port was about 30,000 barrels per day (bpd), a senior NOC official said on Tuesday. About 20,000 bpd was being produced at the Mesla field to feed to the 20,000 bpd Tobruk refinery and another 5,000-10,000 bpd from Sarir to keep the pipeline operational.
The fields are operated by NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co, which can produce close to 400,000 bpd.
The NOC official added that the fields could not ramp up any further until they emptied some crude from storage at the terminal.
Libya's pre-2011 export capacity was close to 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) but the blockade has taken some 700,000 bpd offline and separate protests in the west of the country have also caused sporadic disruptions.
Under the long-awaited deal, the federalist rebels agreed to reopen Hariga and Zueitina ports while negotiations continued over the rest of the OPEC exporter's oil terminals.
Zueitina was still not under government control one week after the agreement, an NOC spokesman said on Monday.
Rebels are still in control of Libya's two largest terminals - Es Sider and Ras Lanuf - and their fate depends on further talks involving thorny issues including the rebels' demands for greater autonomy in the eastern region of Cyrenaica.
Nearly three years after dictator Muammar Gaddafi's fall, the standoff reflects the government's struggle to impose its authority on rival brigades of former rebels that are pushing for more power in the new Libya.
(Reporting by Lin Noueihed, Additional reporting by Julia Payne in Tripoli, editing by William Hardy)