TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - All crude flows to Libya’s Zueitina port have stopped after protesters demanding jobs blocked a pipeline, forcing the closure of several eastern oilfields, oil officials said on Tuesday.
State oil firm NOC confirmed the port closure, reported by Reuters on Monday, but did not specify the impact on production.
The closure should lower oil output to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, according to estimates based on previous production figures.
“The protesters closed the pipeline to the port,” Mohamed El Harari, spokesman for state oil firm NOC, said. He said that several oilfields in eastern Libya would have to close.
“This will have a big impact on oil production,” he said, without giving a figure.
A port official said the security situation at the terminal was normal, adding that the port would technically stay open.
Libyan oil ports and oilfields regularly have to shut down due to protesters seizing them or armed groups fighting for control of the facilities.
The protesters were complaining they had not been hired by the state as promised by a previous oil minister, an engineer told Reuters.
Zueitina was one of the few Libyan ports still exporting oil as the largest have closed due to fighting or blocked oilfields connected to them, part of turmoil gripping the North African country four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
Near the main eastern city of Benghazi, it has closed several times since 2011 due to protesters demanding jobs or management changes at state oil firms.
Libya pumped up to 1.6 million bpd in 2010.
Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli and Feras Bosalum; Writing by Ulf Laessing. Editing by Jane Merriman and William Hardy