* Oil worker union attempts to end oil port blockage
* Premier warns may seek loans if protests go on
* Western powers worried over chaos
TRIPOLI, Nov 28 Libyan oil workers are
negotiating with armed protesters blocking oil terminals in the
east to reopen the second-largest port as popular frustration
grows against militias controlling parts of the country.
A regional autonomy movement, tribes and former militia
fighters campaigning for political rights and a greater share of
Libya's oil wealth have seized oil ports and fields in the east,
blocking most exports and drying up the state budget.
Libya's government has so far failed to negotiate an end to
the port strikes, adding to worries the OPEC country is sliding
into anarchy two years after the NATO-led uprising ousted
The head of the oil worker's union at Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas
Processing Co met autonomy leader Ibrahim Jathran on Wednesday
to ask him to reopen Ras Lanuf port, said Saad Fakhri, deputy
head of Libya's oil workers union.
"Jathran told him: 'I will reopen Ras Lanuf'", Fakhri told
Jathran and aides could not be immediately reached for
comment at his base in Ajdabiya in Libya's east.
The oil workers union's attempts to end the port blockage
came after Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Wednesday the
government would be unable to pay salaries if strikes continue
as oil revenues had fallen to 20 percent their usual.
Analysts estimate oil exports are down to a fifth of the
more than 1 million barrels per day Libya used to export until
summer when the protests began.
Fakhri also said staff at the Ras Lanuf and Arabian Gulf Co,
two units of state National Oil Corp (NOC), would meet on
Thursday "to find solution for the problem of the strikes and
resume oil exports."
Jathran, a former rebel leader from the 2011 uprising
against Gaddafi, has escalated tensions with Tripoli by
threatening to sell the country's crude independently of the
But market traders say it would be very difficult to find
buyers for crude belonging legally to Libya's government which
has warned it would stop any tanker trying to load oil at ports
seized by the protesters.
Western powers are increasingly concerned Libya risks
falling into wide scale chaos with Zeidan's government
struggling to control militias who helped oust Gaddafi, but have
kept their weapons in a security challenge the state.
(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; writing by Ulf Laessing; editing
by Patrick Markey and James Jukwey)