TRIPOLI Nov 15 Workers have abandoned a Libyan
oil port and shut off gas supplies needed for local power
generation after the site was seized by protesters demanding
more political rights, the state National Oil Corp (NOC) and
Two weeks ago, members of the Amazigh, or Berber, minority,
seized the Mellitah complex, operated by NOC and Italy's ENI
The protesters had said they would occasionally allow
tankers to load condensates to avoid running port tanks at full
capacity, which would risk a shutdown of the oil and gas
But NOC spokesman Mohammed al-Harari said gas supplies for
local power plants had stopped from Mellitah on Thursday at 7 pm
after workers left the plant, located 100 km west of Tripoli.
"The Mellitah complex is closed. All the workers there are
not able to work or not coming to work in this environment," he
said. "Everything is shut down."
On Wednesday, NOC said it had slashed production at the
130,000 barrels-a-day El Feel field to 18,000 bpd, because tanks
were running full at the connecting Mellitah port.
Harari was unable to give a production update on Friday,
which is a weekend day in Libya.
A spokesman for the protesters camping out at the port
confirmed that workers had left the complex but blamed Mellitah
and NOC staff for the escalation.
"We told them they can continue producing gas for local
consumption, but they decided to shut it down and leave the
complex," he said. "We also gave them a letter that tankers can
load condensates, but they decided to escalate this."
On Thursday, Libya's public power company urged authorities
to take urgent measures to end what it called a crisis after gas
supplies were cut from Mellitah.
The Amazigh are demanding that their language rights be
guaranteed by the constitution, adding to the challenges faced
by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who also faces opposition from
Islamists in parliament.
Libya's government is struggling to cope with protesters who
have taken over eastern oil ports and a western terminal to
bolster demands for more rights or better conditions.
Oil exports are at a fraction of levels earlier this year of
more than 1 million barrels per day.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Jane Baird)