Libya’s NOC declares force majeure on El Sharara oilfield

NOC has described the occupiers of El Sharara oilfield, above, as militia trying to get on the payroll as field guards. (Reuters)
Updated 18 December 2018
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Libya’s NOC declares force majeure on El Sharara oilfield

  • El Sharara — a 315,000 barrels a day field was taken over on Dec. 8 by groups of tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments
  • Some government officials favor offering quick cash to the occupiers to make them leave, but NOC officials have warned that would set a precedent

TRIPOLI: Libya’s state oil firm NOC has declared force majeure on operations at the country’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, a week after it announced a contractual waiver on exports from the field following its seizure by protesters.

The 315,000 barrels a day field, located in the south of the North African OPEC member country, was taken over on Dec. 8 by groups of tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments and development funds.

Officials have been unable to persuade the groups, who have been camping on the field, to leave the vast, partly unsecured site amid disagreements how best to proceed, workers on the field said.

Some government officials favor offering quick cash to the occupiers to make them leave, but NOC officials have warned that would set a precedent and encourage more blockades, workers at the oilfield say.

NOC has described the occupiers as militia trying to get on the payroll of field guards, a recurring theme in Libya where many see seizing NOC facilities as an easy way to get heard by the weak state authorities.

Production will only restart after “alternative security arrangements are put in place,” NOC said in a statement.

Operations at the smaller El Feel oilfield continued as normal, engineers said.

“Production at Sharara was forcibly shut down by an armed group — Battalion 30 and its civilian support company — that claimed to be providing security at the field, but which threatened violence against NOC employees,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanallah said in the statement.

His comments came after the chief of staff of the Tripoli-based government, Abdulrahman Attweel, criticized some of Sanalla’s previous comments about the protesters as “irresponsible.”

“These people (guards) were there to protect the field without salaries and without any attention to them and their daily needs, not in terms of accommodation, supply, transportation and communication,” Attweel told Al-Ahrar channel late on Monday.

Their demands were legitimate, he said, echoing comments by some southern lawmakers and mayors demanding more jobs and development for the neglected region.
The blockade has been complicated by the presence of tribesmen, who have argued against quick cash payments saying they want funds to improve hospitals and other services, which might take time to deliver.

The shutdown of the El Sharara has not affected the El Feel oilfield, also located in the south. It continued to pump around 70,000 barrels a day, field engineers said.
Its exports were being routed via the Melittah oil and gas port, which like El Feel belongs to a joint venture NOC has with Italian energy company Eni, another engineer said.

A spokesman for NOC did not respond to a request for comment.
El Sharara crude is normally transported to the Zawiya port, also home to a refinery. NOC runs the field with Spain’s Repsol , France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Norway’s Equinor, formerly known as Statoil.


Egyptian economy on right track after 5.6% growth in 2018-2019: prime minister

Updated 17 July 2019
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Egyptian economy on right track after 5.6% growth in 2018-2019: prime minister

  • Egypt is emerging from a three-year economic reform program tied to a $12 billion loan from the IMF
  • Egypt has been praised by international lenders for swift reforms implemented since 2016

CAIRO: Egypt’s economy grew 5.6 percent in the 2018/19 fiscal year and is “on the right track” as it completes IMF-backed reforms, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said on Wednesday.
The budget deficit came in at 8.2 percent of GDP, he said, which was slightly below an official forecast of 8.4 percent.
Egypt is emerging from a three-year economic reform program tied to a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Madbouli said Egypt’s primary surplus stood at 2 percent for the fiscal year, which ended in June, and also pointed to a recent drop in inflation as positive signs. Economic growth was up from 5.3 percent in 2017/18 and in line with a government forecast.
“At the same time, it induces us to complete the implementation of reforms and the efforts exerted to achieve the targets for the new fiscal year,” Madbouli said in a statement said.
Egypt has been praised by international lenders for swift reforms implemented since 2016, though austerity measures and inflation have left many Egyptians struggling to get by.
The reforms included a sharp devaluation of the currency, the introduction of value-added tax and the elimination of subsidies on most fuel products.
Headline annual inflation dropped to 9.4 percent in June from 14.1 percent the previous month, though it is expected to rise over the rest of the summer as the impact of the latest round of fuel subsidy cuts kicks in.