UPDATE 1-Libya suspends Sarir oil output due to Hariga port protest

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BENGHAZI, Libya, July 19 (Reuters) - A protest over wages that has shut the eastern Libyan oil terminal of Hariga has forced the operator of the Sarir oil field to suspend production of 100,000 barrels per day, an oil company spokesman said on Tuesday.

Omran al-Zwai, spokesman for Libya’s eastern state oil firm AGOCO, said production at the Messla oil field would also be reduced to a minimum within four or five days if exports continued to be blocked from Hariga.

Exports were halted on Sunday after a group of Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) travelled to the port to protest over what they said were unpaid salaries.

Two tankers have been delayed from loading as attempts are made to mediate the dispute, a port official said.

Protests, conflict and political quarrels have reduced Libya’s oil production sharply since an uprising in the OPEC member five years ago. Output has been fluctuating at less than a quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million bpd.

No one at the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli was immediately available to comment on how the Hariga protest was affecting daily production.

Several major eastern Libyan terminals remain blockaded by the PFG, a national force that is internally divided. Key units have shifted allegiances between different political factions.

Hariga, with an export capacity of about 120,000 bpd, has largely continued to operate smoothly, though the NOC’s eastern branch temporarily blocked exports there in May amid a dispute with the rival NOC based in Tripoli.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by Jason Neely and William Hardy