November 10, 2013 / 4:26 PM / in 4 years

Libya may face budget problems unless oil strikes end: PM

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya may find it difficult to cover its budget expenditure next month or the one after unless strikes blocking oil ports and fields end, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Sunday.

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a joint news conference at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli, November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

A mix of militias, tribes and civil servants seeking political rights or higher pay have seized oil ports and fields across the OPEC producer, knocking down output to a fraction of its capacity of 1.25 million barrels a day.

“The budget is based on the assumption that oil revenues flow for the (full) year,” Zeidan told reporters. “From next or the following month, there could be a problem covering expenditures.”

Zeidan said the government had given the protesters a week to 10 days to clear the blocked oil fields and ports. “Otherwise, we will take measures,” he said, declining to be more specific.

He said the blockage of the Mellitah terminal in Western Libya was threatening to halt the supply of gas through an undersea pipeline to Italy. The complex is owned by Italy’s ENI (ENI.MI) and Libya’s state-owned state National Oil Corp (NOC).

Protesters have already stopped oil exports from Mellitah and have threatened to halt gas exports from there too.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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