Libya lifts Es Sider force majeure paving way for oil export boost

The state oil company urged all Libyan parties to support it

  
The building housing Libya's oil state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), is seen in Tripoli, Libya February 22, 2016.

The building housing Libya's oil state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), is seen in Tripoli, Libya February 22, 2016.

REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

CAIRO/LONDON- Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Wednesday lifted force majeure on the Es Sider oil terminal, under blockade for six months, paving the way for higher oil exports from the OPEC member.

"As part of the continuing review of the force majeure situation, we have recently received a formal security assessment concerning Es Sider Terminal, which confirms that the vessel on standby can load upon arrival," a document circulated to oil traders stated.

On Wednesday, the NOC urged all Libyan parties to support it, calling on what it described as "foreign mercenaries and armed groups" to leave the port immediately.

The Delta Ocean Suezmax tanker arrived at the port on July 5, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, and was chartered by trader Unipec, a shipping and a trading source said.

The other eastern ports of Ras Lanuf, Brega, Zueitina and Hariga, have been under force majeure since January because of a blockade imposed by forces based in eastern Libya.

Libya's Zawia oil terminal, home to a refinery, is not exporting crude following the shutdown of the Sharara oilfield.

The blockades have resulted in $6.5 billion in lost revenue for OPEC member Libya, whose current production of around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) is a fraction of its 1.6 million bpd pre-civil war output level.

Previous shutdowns have slashed capacity to 1.2 million bpd with the current blockade risking cutting it further to 650,000 bpd in 2022, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla warned on Tuesday. 

A return of Libyan barrels to the oil market, as a resurgence in COVID-19 infections dims the demand outlook, could complicate matters for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.

The grouping, known as OPEC+, is expected to taper its oil production cuts from August by some 2 million bpd to 7.7 million bpd. It will hold a high level meeting on July 15 to discuss market conditions.

Brent crude LCOc1 was little changed around $43 per barrel on Wednesday, despite the potentially bearish news.

"Based on experiences earlier this year ... I guess market participants believe in recovering Libyan oil production only when they see it," UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Last month, a restart of Sharara, the country's biggest, was short-lived. (Additional reporting by Mahmoud Mourad in Cairo, editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise) ((mahmoud.mourad@thomsonreuters.com))

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