(Adds first tanker leaves port, second starts loading)
By Feras Bosalum
BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A second tanker started loading oil at Libya’s Es Sider port, state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Thursday, as the country’s biggest crude export terminal swung back into action after being closed for a year.
The OPEC member’s oil production has risen in the past few weeks, while major ports in the east have restarted operations following a deal in early July with a group of federalist rebels, adding to a crude market that is already well supplied.
A first tanker finished loading oil at Es Sider and left on Thursday, and a second had docked to load oil, NOC spokesman Mohamed El Harari said.
Exports are resuming after technical problems and mistrust between the government and the rebels, who were campaigning for regional autonomy, delayed implementation of the port deal for weeks.
Meanwhile, oil production has risen to 612,000 barrels per day (bpd), Harari said, citing improvements at western fields such as El Sharara and El Feel.
This is well above lows of barely 100,000 bpd seen earlier this year but still short of levels of about 1.4 million bpd a year ago.
Traders and shipping sources expect several more cargoes to be shipped by companies with stakes in the Waha Oil Co, which runs the Es Sider port and connected oilfields, such as Marathon Oil Corp, Hess Corp and ConocoPhillips. Austria’s OMV AG is also expected to lift a cargo.
The North African country badly needs higher exports to cover budget needs as oil is the only source of income.
The Es Sider port currently holds some 4.5 million barrels in storage, but once the tanks are emptied, the connected oilfields can restart production, officials have said. (Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Michael Urquhart and Jane Baird)