(Adds El Feel output, background)
By Feras Bosalum and Ahmed Elumami
TRIPOLI May 14 Libya's El Feel oilfield has
restarted production, National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Wednesday,
as it moves slowly to restore some output following protests
that closed fields and ports.
The government said on Monday it had reached an agreement
with protesters to reopen the western El Sharara, El Feel and
Wafa oilfields and the pipelines connecting them to the Zawiya
Expectations and doubts about the return of the oilfields
have driven global oil prices this week.
The El Sharara oilfield, the largest at 340,000 barrels per
day (bpd), was still closed on Wednesday, because protesters had
not yet opened the pipeline valve to the port, field manager
Hassan Sadiq said.
"They (protesters) reopened the valves for the Wafa and
El-Feel oil fields but not for Sharara," he said. "We are ready
to resume work once the valves are reopened."
NOC spokesman Mohammed El Harari said El Feel was pumping
more than 35,000 bpd, helping to slightly boost national output
to 250,000 bpd, still far short of Libya's roughly 1.4 million
bpd before the protests started.
El Feel, which has a pre-shutdown production capacity of
85,000 bpd, is jointly operated by NOC and Italy's ENI.
Harari said gas was flowing from Wafa, but he did not know
whether pumping of liquid condensates had resumed.
Three years after a NATO-backed revolt toppled leader
Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's oil infrastructure remains the target
of protests and shutdowns, usually by brigades of former rebels
who refuse to disarm or recognise the state's authority.
The western pipeline network has been closed by protesters
since March, forcing the shutdown of the fields.
Analysts say Libya's oil output is vulnerable to new and
continued protests, given that opposition groups are fractured
and lack a joint leadership.
In the east of Libya, a government deal to reopen two major
oil ports controlled by another rebel movement looks likely to
unravel over the movement's opposition to the appointment of a
new prime minister.
The deal reached in April led to the reopening of the two
smaller eastern terminals of Hariga and Zueitina, but the larger
ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider remain shut pending more talks.
(Reporting by Feras Bosalum; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing
by Jane Baird)