Oil guards given control of El Sharara


Eastern Libyan forces handed over control of the El Sharara oilfield to an oil security force, officials said, in a bid to encourage state oil firm NOC to restart production halted since December.

The field, which was producing about 315,000 barrels per day (bpd), was closed after state guards and tribesmen seized it, making financial and other demands. NOC declared force majeure, a waiver on its contracts.

NOC in Tripoli, in western Libya where the internationally recognised government is based, said it will not reopen the field without a new security arrangement and other conditions, such as ensuring workers are safe.

Libyan forces loyal to a commander based in the east of the politically divided nation took control of the field last week, after negotiating with the state guards and tribesmen.

“We call on NOC to lift force majeure,” Naji al-Maghrabi, the eastern-based commander of the state oil guards appointed to protect the field, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the eastern military confirmed handing over the field to the oil force.

There was no immediate comment from NOC.

It was not immediately clear if handing over security to security guards under the control of an eastern-based commander would meet NOC’s demands.

The eastern forces launched an offensive in mid-January to secure the southern oilfields, which include El Sharara.