* Wintershall to stop Libya oil output, removes staff
* Statoil, Shell, BP plan evacuations as unrest spreads
* Repsol, Eni say oil production unaffected
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LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Wintershall, the oil and gas exploration arm of BASF BASF.DE, prepared to shut down its output in Libya and fly out international staff as violence spread in Africa’s third-largest oil producer.
Wintershall said on Monday it was winding down Libyan oil production of as much as 100,000 barrels per day (bpd). Companies including Royal Dutch Shell [RDSa.L] and OMV (OMVV.VI) said they were withdrawing expatriate staff.
Norway’s Statoil, Austria’s OMV and Anglo-Dutch Shell acted as scores of anti-government protesters were killed in Benghazi and unrest spread to the capital Tripoli over the weekend.
Wintershall’s move would amount to a sizeable drop in supply from Libya, most of whose oil exports flow to Europe and which pumps about 1.6 million bpd of crude oil, making it Africa’s third-largest producer after Nigeria and Angola.
Most of Libya’s oil production operations are located in the east of the country south of Benghazi — Libya’s second city which appeared on Monday to have slipped out of control of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. [ID:nLDE71J00J]
UK oil major BP (BP.L), which does not produce oil or gas in Libya but has been readying an onshore rig to start drilling in the west of the country, has suspended operations because of the escalating violence.
“We are looking at evacuating some people from Libya, so those preparations are being suspended but we haven’t started drilling and we are years away from any production,” a BP spokesman said, adding BP has about 40 staff in the country.
Shell, whose operations in Libya are also limited to exploration, has temporarily relocated the dependents of expatriate staff outside the country, a spokesman for the company said, declining to comment further on operations.
Austrian oil and gas group OMV (OMVV.VI) said none of its operations in Libya have been affected but that it was withdrawing expatriate staff. [ID:nWEB0411]
Statoil STL.OL, which participates in land-based oil production and exploration activities in the Mabruk field and in the Murzuk basin with Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC), has closed its office in Tripoli and “a handful” of its foreign workers are leaving the country, a Statoil spokesman said.
Oil production from the isolated Murzuq oil field in the desert in the south of the country continues as normal, a spokesman for operator Repsol said on Monday.
Al Jazeera television reported on Monday that production from the Arabian Gulf Oil Company Nafoora oilfield had stopped because workers are striking, as violent unrest spread across the country which produces over one million barrels of oil a day. [ID:nLDE71K0FI]
For a factbox on Libyan oil and gas click: [ID:LDE71K0RV] (Reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt; Daniel Fineren, Emma Farge and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London, Svetlana Kovalyova in Milan, Wojciech Moskwa in Oslo; writing by Alex Lawler; editing by Keiron Henderson)