Tribesmen stage protest at Libya's El Sharara oilfield

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A small group of Libyan tribesmen staged a protest at the southern El Sharara oilfield last week, threatening to close down production unless their living conditions improved, a video tape showed and staff at the field said on Sunday.

The field, in Libya’s remote southwest produces around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). It has suffered shutdowns caused by security problems in the past, including raids, kidnappings and blockages by tribesmen and state-paid guards.

“The situation (at El Sharara) is fragile. Nobody knows what will happen,” said a Libyan oil source, when asked about the protest which took place last Thursday. The field faced “constant threats”, the source said.

The protesters demanded better state services such as water and bank liquidity for the southern Libyan region known as Fezzan, where living standards have deteriorated over the years due to tribal clashes, a lack of security and a break down of the state.

They set a deadline of Nov. 11 for their demands to be met or face a shutdown of Fezzan oil and gas production in general, one protestor said in a statement on a video posted online.

A member of the oilfield’s staff and one of the protesters confirmed the protest had taken place on Thursday.

State oil firm NOC had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

In March the field shut briefly after a local landowner closed a valve in protest against pollution near a pipeline crossing his land.

OPEC member Libya’s oil production is currently producing up to 1.3 million barrels a day (bpd) of oil, the chairman of state oil firm NOC told Reuters on Wednesday.

That is its highest level since mid-2013 when a wave of blockades and protests by armed groups started after Libya descended into conflict following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi and Ahmad Ghaddar in London; Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton