UPDATE 2-Libya says western oilfields, pipelines to reopen tonight

Mon May 12, 2014 12:35pm EDT

Related Topics

* Protesters say they have left oilfields

* Potential for 500,000 barrels per day rise in output

* Deadlock continues over eastern ports (Adds protest spokesman confirmation para 5 and details)

TRIPOLI, May 12 (Reuters) - Libya's western oilfields and pipelines will reopen on Monday evening after protesters ended a blockade, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said, potentially raising Libyan crude output by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd).

The major oil-producing fields of El Sharara, El Feel and Wafa, as well as the pipelines connecting them to the Zawiya port, will all reopen on Monday, as will the Mellitah condensates line, NOC spokesman Mohamed al-Harari said.

"The protesters have announced that their blockade is over and all the lines in the west will reopen tonight," he said.

The pipeline network in the west of Libya has been closed by protesters since March, forcing the shutdown of the oilfields, including the 340,000 bpd El Sharara.

A spokesperson for protesters at El Sharara, Muftah Yahmid told Reuters they reached a deal with the help of tribal elders and had turned the field over to control of a PFG oil guard unit after ending their protest.

"We have left the field because of the current situation in Libya and also because of government promises to meet our demands," he said. "The field is under the control of the PFG now."

He said protest demands had included more investment in local water and tourism facilities, and for health treatment and education.

A Libyan government deal to reopen major oil ports controlled by a separate rebel movement in the east looks likely to unravel, however, over opposition to the appointment of a new Islamist-backed prime minister.

The deal to reopen two of the four blocked ports was reached in early April. Since then, the smaller Hariga and Zueitina terminals have resumed oil exports, but the two larger ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider remain shut pending negotiations over the distribution of oil wealth.

Three years after the revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's oil infrastructure is a target for protests, shutdowns and strikes by brigades of former rebels who refuse to disarm or recognise the state's authority.

Oil and gas are the main source of Libya's income and of the hard currency needed to fund essential food imports. Production was about 1.4 million bpd until mid-2013 when the protests began, reducing it to little more than 200,000 bpd. (Reporting by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli; Editing by William Hardy)

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