(Adds comment on pipeline, background)
LONDON, March 28 Oil production from the western
Libyan fields of Sharara and Wafa has been blocked by armed
protesters, reducing output by 252,000 barrels per day (bpd), a
source at the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Tuesday.
NOC declared force majeure on loadings of Sharara crude from
the Zawiya oil terminal in the west of the country and Wafa
condensate loadings from the Mellitah terminal.
Supplies were stopped by the shutdown of pipelines leading
from the fields to Zawiya refinery and port, a Libyan oil source
said. The identity of the group was not immediately clear and
there had been no claim of responsibility, he said.
The shutdown at Sharara, which had been producing about
220,000 bpd, began on Monday, a day after the Wafa shutdown, the
NOC source said.
There was no official comment from the NOC.
The stoppage threatens a partial revival of Libyan output
after years of disruptions due to conflict, political divisions
and local protests. Pipelines and ports have repeatedly been
blocked by groups demanding salary payments or other funding.
National production has still more than doubled since last
year to reach about 700,000 bpd. Three eastern oil ports were
reopened in September, and Sharara resumed operations in
December when a two-year pipeline blockade was lifted.
Production remains far below the 1.6 million bpd that OPEC
member Libya pumped before the 2011 uprising in the North
African nation. NOC has set ambitious output recovery goals.
NOC said last week it hoped to raise production from Sharara
to nearly 300,000 bpd, and that it was targeting national output
of 800,000 by the end of April.
Austrian oil firm OMV, one of the foreign partners
in Sharara, was due to load a 600,000 barrel cargo of Sharara
crude from Zawiya on board the Sea Vine tanker later this week.
The booking for the tanker has been cancelled, a Libyan port
source with knowledge of the shipment told Reuters.
OMV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The oilfield is operated by a joint venture between NOC and
a consortium of Repsol, Total, Statoil
(Reporting by Julia Payne in Lausanne, Ahmad Ghaddar in London,
Olga Yagova in Moscow, and Aidan Lewis in Tunis; Writing by
Ahmad Ghaddar and Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Potter and David