July 12, 2018 / 2:12 PM / in 8 months

Libya's National Oil Corporation reopens El Feel oilfield

TUNIS (Reuters) - Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Thursday that it was reopening the El Feel oilfield after resolving a dispute with guards over pay and benefits that shut it down in February.

FILE PHOTO: A view shows El Feel oil field near Murzuq, Libya, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aidan Lewis

Production at El Feel was expected to reach 50,000 bpd in two days, and 72,000 bpd three days later, NOC said in a statement.

The restart is a boost for Libya’s oil industry, coming one day after an unrelated stoppage at major eastern oil terminals was ended.

That disruption, which began in mid-June, had more than halved Libya’s national oil production from highs in February of 1.28 million bpd.

Operations at fields linked to the eastern ports are gradually resuming, with production restarting at the 70,000 bpd Abu Attifel field on Thursday.

Both El Feel and Abu Attifel are operated by Mellitah Oil and Gas, a joint venture between NOC and Italy’s Eni.

El Feel was shut on February 23, when guards stormed offices at the southwestern field to press their demands.

“The dispute caused by the local Petroleum Facilities Guards’ (PFG) demands regarding pay and benefits was brought to an end,” the NOC statement said.

“Negotiations succeeded in guaranteeing an unconditional return of Fezzan Branch PFG to their previous locations.”

The NOC said it had lifted force majeure, a legal waiver on contractual obligations for exports from El Feel.

Libya’s oil production has been repeatedly disrupted by blockades and conflict over the past five years.

Before a 2011 uprising threw the OPEC member into turmoil, it was producing more than 1.6 million bpd.

Reporting by Aidan Lewis, Ayman al-Warfalli and Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Susan Fenton and Alexandra Hudson

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