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NEW YORK/LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Libya will resume oil shipments from the port of Marsa El Hariga after an agreement was reached at talks in Vienna between rival oil officials representing the east and west of the country, Libyan oil sources told Reuters.
Exports from the port have been blocked since early this month due to a standoff between the rival eastern and western National Oil Corporations (NOC).
Early signs of rapprochement between the two could help Libya quickly increase its oil production back towards the more than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) it was before the blockade more than halved output from two major eastern oil fields.
The NOC in Benghazi, which is loyal to Libya’s eastern government, has prevented the loading of a tanker sent by the NOC in Tripoli, since the former tried unsuccessfully last month to export a cargo of crude for the first time.
The NOC in Tripoli, which is keen to work with a new U.N.-backed unity government to revive Libya’s oil production, said the standoff was costing Libya $10 million a day, and warned that storage tanks at the port would be full within weeks if no deal was reached.
Sources close to the negotiations said the two sides agreed to resume crude oil shipments from Hariga to “avoid damage to pipelines, avert a financial crisis, and ensure power supplies are not interrupted further.”
The memorandum also asked the Libyan House of Representatives and the Presidency Council to unify the oil sector.
NOC Tripoli plans to charter a tanker later this week to load 400,000 barrels of Messla and Sarir crude at Hariga to take to the 120,000 barrel-per-day Zawia refinery in western Libya, an official from Tripoli who did not wish to be identified told Reuters.
Oil trader Glencore, which had been exporting crude oil from the port under a deal reached late last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Libby George and Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Evans)
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