(Adds details from AGOCO chairman)
By Ayman al-Warfalli
BENGHAZI, Libya Sept 29 Libya's Arabian Gulf Oil
Company (AGOCO) has increased production to 290,000 barrels per
day, its chairman said on Thursday, and hopes to reach 350,000
bpd by the end of the year.
AGOCO, a subsidiary of the National Oil Corporation (NOC)
that operates mainly in eastern Libya, has boosted its output
from about 150,000 bpd since military commander Khalifa Haftar
took control of some of the country's main oil terminals from a
rival force on Sept. 11-12.
Following the takeover, the NOC opened three previously
blockaded ports. On Thursday an official at one of the ports,
Zueitina, said a tanker had entered to load 570,000 barrels of
crude to take to Zawiya refinery in western Libya.
Clashes, protests and political disputes slashed Libya's oil
output to a fraction of former levels. The OPEC member was
producing about 1.6 million bpd before the 2011 uprising that
toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla has said he hopes the opening
of the ports can be a turning point. But major pipelines in
western Libya are still blockaded and Libya remains politically
and militarily divided.
Ibrahim Alawami, head of the NOC's measurement department,
said on Thursday national production was between 450,000 and
490,000 bpd and would rise to about 500,000 bpd by the end of
AGOCO Chairman Mohamed Shatwan told Reuters the company's
production should reach 300,000 bpd in the coming days, barring
any technical problems, adding a further 50,000 bpd by the end
"We have an ambitious plan under which it is possible after
a period to reach 400,000 bpd," he added, saying it might take
up to two years to achieve that goal.
Damage to AGOCO's fields from militant attacks over the past
two years was limited, he said.
Of AGOCO's five major fields Bayda remains shut because of a
technical problem at Ras Lanuf, and production at Nafoura is
limited to 22,000 bpd, about half of its capacity, because
maintenance work and parts are needed, said Shatwan. A storage
tank in Messla field that was damaged in 2011 has remained
unrepaired because of the evacuation of foreign workers.
"We ask on this occasion that foreign companies return to
work and carry out operations to check security, and if they do
not return we will have to find another solution," he said.
Of the ports seized by Hangar's forces, Zueitina had been
closed since late last year, while Ras Lanuf and Es Sider ports
had been shut since 2014. The first tankers docked at Ras Lanuf
last week, but Es Sider, badly damaged in fighting, needs
repairs before exports can resume.
Exports have continued at a reduced level at Brega, the
fourth port now under Haftar's control.
Hariga terminal in the far east of Libya, which is operated
by AGOCO, has kept working relatively smoothly. Shatwan said 56
or 57 tankers had loaded there so far this year, compared to 90
tankers during the whole of 2015.
(Additional reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Aidan Lewis;
editing by Patrick Markey and Tom Brown)