Last updateSam, 31 Jan 2015 7pm

Protesters again close southern Libya oilfield

Tripoli, Libya - Protesters on Friday closed the oil field in Al-Sharara in the south of the country, less than a week after lifting their blockade, saying that their demands have not been met.

The protesters agreed on 4 March to end their action following the mediation of the chairman of a government commission, the former defence minister Abdullah Al-Theni, who is now the Prime Minister.

'Our demands have not been met,' said the spokesman of the protesters, Muftah Ben Yahmed.

According to him, the only demand which is being met is the granting of identification number to families to regularize their situation.

The other demands have not been addressed by the authorities who had pledged to satisfy them.

The inhabitants of the town of Oubari in the south staged a sit-in for the second time since last October at the Al-Sharara oilfield, which produces 340,000 barrels per day, to demand the creation of a town council and the issuing of identification numbers to the Tuareg minority to enable them to acquire national identity documents.

Last Wednesday, the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) announced that national output, which had fallen to about 250,000 barrels per day, had risen to 410,000 b/d, attributing the rise to the resumption of activities at the oil field in Al-Sharara after the lifting of the blockade by local people.

But the figure will slump with the closure of this important oilfield.

The cessation of Libyan oil exports due to the blockade by armed separatist groups in the east of the country has had a negative impact on the budget of Libya, Omar Chakmak, acting Minister of Petroleum, said Wednesday evening.

Libya, Africa's fourth largest oil producer, with 1.6 million barrels per day, before the revolution that toppled the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, has seen production drop to less than 200,000 b/d as armed separatist groups closed oil terminals in the eastern part of the country.

Faced with this situation, Nouri Abushamein, president of the General National Congress (GNC), the country’s highest legislative and political authority, said on Wednesday that the Congress had given armed separatist groups two weeks to lift the blockade of ports.

The President of GNC decided last Monday to set up a military force to liberate rebel-held oil terminals in eastern Libya.

Pana 16/03/2014