Libya’s Sharara field still closed for security reasons

ANKARA (AA): Libya’s biggest oil field, Sharara, will remain closed until sufficient security measures are put in place for its safe operation, the Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) chairman said in a video message on the NOC website on Monday.

“The oil field (Sharara) is closed because of the presence of a group of civilians, armed militia, and some military people with them. The oil field is not yet safe,” Mustafa Sanalla said in the video statement.

“The conditions for reopening Sharara, including safety for oil workers and the departure of the armed group responsible for the field’s closure, had not yet been met,” he continued.

He added that oil production would not restart at the field in southern Libya, which is currently under control of forces loyal to east Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The Haftar forces, who are supported by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) forces, announced three weeks ago that they also took “full control” of the nearby Sharara oilfield. They also took control of the Elephant oil field in Libya’s Murzuq Basin last week.

Libya’s Sharara field has been closed since December after members of the Maghawir Brigade seized control, crippling oil exports that the country mainly depends on for revenue.

Libya’s NOC declared a force majeure on Dec. 10, stating the Sharara oil field shutdown would cause a production loss of 315,000 barrels per day (bpd).

On Jan. 15, Haftar forces in southern Libya aim to “fight against Al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups, clear out Chadian opposition groups, and dismiss human traffickers in the region”.

Libya has struggled to maintain oil production since 2011, when longstanding President Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising, triggering years of political turbulence and unrest.