By John Ikani
Production came to a halt at Libya’s largest oil field on Sunday, as protesters compelled its closure due to fuel shortages, according to the country’s state-run oil company.
The National Oil Corp. invoked force majeure at the Sharara oil field in the southern region.
Force majeure is a legal manoeuvre that releases a company of its contractual obligations because of extraordinary circumstances.
The shutdown, effective immediately, disrupted crude oil supplies to the Zawiya terminal on the Mediterranean coast.
With a daily oil production exceeding 1.2 million barrels, the Sharara field, capable of yielding up to 300,000 barrels per day, plays a pivotal role in Libya’s oil industry.
Negotiations are in progress with the protesters to expedite the resumption of production, as stated by the company.
Local media reported that residents of Ubari, a desert town located approximately 950 kilometres (590 miles) south of Tripoli, orchestrated the shutdown in protest against fuel shortages.
Their demands extend beyond fuel concerns, encompassing calls for the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the repair of roads in the southwestern Fezzan region, one of Libya’s three historic provinces.
This marks the second time this year that the field has faced closure due to such protests, with a two-day shutdown occurring in July.
Libya’s light crude has been a focal point in the country’s protracted civil conflict, attracting attention from rival militias and foreign powers vying for control over Africa’s largest oil reserves.
The nation has grappled with unrest since the NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Over the past decade, Libya has been divided between rival administrations in the east and west, each receiving support from militias and foreign governments, contributing to the ongoing instability in the region.