* Marsa Al Hariga port reopens
* NOC declares force majeure at four ports
* PFG defuses protest, fires rogue Es Sider leader
* Tanker off Es Sider under observation
* FACTBOX on status of Libyan oil installations
(Updates with force majeure)
By Feras Bosalum and Julia Payne
TRIPOLI/LONDON, Aug 19 Libya was forced to
suspend contractual obligations with a force majeure on some oil
exports on Monday, acknowledging weeks of disruption which has
cut shipments to their lowest since the civil war of 2011.
Yet the reopening of the Marsa al Hariga oil port - if it
holds - may also show the first fracturing of strikes.
The intervention from a new leader of the oil security body
that protects installations, the removal of a protest leader who
had threatened to sell oil himself and some port workers
rejecting further disruption, could be the first faint signs of
a turn in the tide.
Oil traders remained sceptical the chaos will end soon.
About half of Libya's over 1.2 million barrel per day export
capacity remains shut down, industry sources said.
The crisis hit a peak at the end of last week when the
government threatened military action should striking security
guards at Es Sider, Libya's largest terminal, sell oil
Marsa al Hariga resumed full operations and is ready to
export following strikes, an oil ministry spokesman said on
The 110,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) port has been mostly shut
for the last three weeks due to worker protests, including
employees of operator Arabian Gulf Oil Co, with only some fuel
shipments for domestic use leaving the terminal.
It was not immediately possible to reach Arabian Gulf Oil Co
who participated in closing the oilfields, which feed the port
and Libya's largest refinery.
"We need to see a vessel berth and load," one trader said,
who has a tanker waiting nearby.
Force majeure was declared on crude oil and oil product
exports from their Zueitina, Marsa al Brega, Ras Lanuf and Es
Sider terminals, a Libya National Oil Corp document showed.
DIVISIONS AMONG PORT WORKERS
But the striking guards were under mounting pressure from
colleagues at other local ports, several Libyan sources said,
and there were no signs they have gained wider support to sell
A new chairman of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), many
of whose members are striking, has taken the lead in
Edris Abokhamada became head of the PFG at the start of
August, replacing Rasheed Al Sabri.
"(Edris) succeeded to defuse the strike at Tobruk and Marsa
al Hariga and now he's working on Zueitina," one senior Libyan
oil official told Reuters.
The loyalty of the PFG heads and disunity among oil workers
in the east is leaving the leader of the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf
protest somewhat isolated, sources said.
"We received a letter from employees at the Brega port
saying they are against the port closures and will work under
the government," a PFG spokesman said.
The government said last week that Ibrahim al-Jathran, head
of the middle region for the PFG, was seeking to sell oil for
the benefit of his group of striking oil workers.
"Ibrahim has been removed from his position by the chief of
staff," the spokesman added, and said he expected the other
ports to reopen soon.
"The idea of some workers coming out against the protests is
interesting, as it shows there isn't a completely unified
position supporting the closure, but that could easily lead to
more disputes and divisions rather than speed up the reopening
process," said Richard Mallinson, chief policy analyst at Energy
The PFG operates under the Defence Ministry to protect oil
installations, but only about 2,000 of its 15,000 members have
had training from the military.
Es Sider has around eight crude oil tankers waiting to load
Trading sources and employees at Es Sider said there was one
tanker, A Whale, waiting outside that was unaccounted for and
market sources did not know who had chartered it. Oil sources in
Libya speculated the ship may be linked to attempts to sell oil
"We are calling the tanker, but we are not able to reach the
captain," one of the port workers said.
Libyan authorities increased their profile at Es Sider. A
Libyan Coast Guard vessel, the Toukra Tess, entered the port on
Saturday, maritime analytics firm WindWard said.
(Additional reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by William Hardy)