* Gov guards not in full control of eastern port after deal
* Rebels seek former jobs protecting oil facilities
* Force majeure at two eastern ports not lifted
* AGOCO workers join general strike in Benghazi
(Recasts lead, adds quotes, detail)
By Julia Payne
TRIPOLI, April 8 Libya's oil protection force is
not in full control of the Zueitina port as some militiamen are
still at the facility following a deal to end their blockade of
eastern oil terminals, a Petroleum Facilities Guard spokesman
said late on Tuesday.
The port, along with the country's two largest, Es Sider and
Ras Lanuf, has been under the control of an eastern federalist
group led by former guard member Ibrahim al-Jathran, who
recruited men from within his ranks.
An end to the nine-month standoff, which has crippled the
OPEC member's economy, is finally within Tripoli's grasp, but
initial reopenings could face hiccups and delays.
A deal was brokered over the weekend to reopen two of the
small blocked ports, and while workers have been allowed entry,
the former Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) members that
followed Jathran are still there, hoping to rejoin the force
that they deserted.
"His militia are still there (at Zueitina), but they agreed
to open. We are not happy with that. We need to be 100 percent
in control," the PFG spokesman said.
"They are letting workers back in. ... But we want to make
sure that they (militiamen) are gone; we don't trust the old
The spokesman added that negotiations were ongoing and the
former guards could be rehired and potentially relocated but
government forces needed to re-establish their control first.
While the Hariga port has not been under Jathran's direct
control, some of those who began protesting over management
changes became Jathran sympathizers while others who wanted to
resume exports were fearful of a potential attack.
The opening of Zueitina and Hariga is the first step toward
regaining control of Libya's biggest terminals and its largest
oil refinery, a process which is expected to take up to four
Jathran's rebel group is seeking greater autonomy and a
greater share of oil revenues for the eastern Cyrenaica
Earlier on Tuesday, an oil ministry official said that the
National Oil Corp (NOC) had yet to lift force majeure at
Zueitina and Hariga.
"Force majeure is still in place, it has not been lifted.
NOC has not instructed the ports to export oil yet," Ibrahim
Al-Awami said staff at Arabian Gulf Oil Co (AGOCO), which
runs the Hariga terminal, had joined a general strike in
Benghazi that began on Sunday. It was unclear whether this would
affect the port's ability to resume exports.
Though the PFG are not in full control, workers at Zueitina
have been carrying out maintenance and checking facilities ahead
of the restart of exports, al-Awami said. Production at Zueitina
has still not resumed due to these checks, but exports could
start as there are about 2-3 million barrels of crude in
One shipping source familiar with the matter said it would
take about 10 days to get ready as one of the crude grades, Bu
Attifel, needs to be heated to reach the required pour point.
Zueitina, another lighter grade, could easily be exported,
the source said.
Only the western offshore oilfields Bouri and Al Jurf were
producing and exporting as usual. Crude from the only open port
in the east was being sent to the Zawiya refinery, to make up
for the still-closed southwestern El Sharara oilfield, which
normally feeds it.
The refinery is operating at a reduced capacity of around
80,000 bpd, compared with its usual 120,000 bpd, after NOC was
forced to stop output at the El Sharara field in February due to
protests. The western El Feel and El Wafa fields were also
closed due to similar ongoing protests in March.
(Additional reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Keiron
Henderson, Dale Hudson, David Evans and Jonathan Oatis)