TUNIS - Libya's National Oil Corporation, NOC, announced on Sunday the reopening of the eastern As-Sarah oil fields, where more than 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) had been shut in by a blockade since November.
Two wells started pumping on Sunday and production was expected to reach around 55,000 bpd by Monday, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The NOC said the municipality of the Jakhira oasis decided to reopen the fields under pressure from the NOC and Libya's public prosecutor.
The fields are in a concession held by Germany's Wintershall, which the NOC blamed for an "unauthorised" shutdown it said had cost Libya more than $281 million.
It also called the decision to reopen the fields a "humiliating setback" for a parallel NOC based in eastern Libya, which for several years has tried to gain control over the production and sale of Libyan oil.
"The restart is a humiliating setback for the parallel structure set up by the interim government and for its campaign to shut down Libyan production in the Wahat region and beyond," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla was quoted as saying in the NOC statement.
"The public prosecutor will continue to investigate this crime. The perpetrators and others considering using the tactic should remember this is a very serious offence for which there is no statute of limitations," Sanalla said.
(Reporting by Aidan Lewis; editing by John Stonestreet and Adrian Croft) ((Aidan.Lewis@thomsonreuters.com ; +216-29850352;))