Crude loadings from Libya’s eastern terminals resume but more volatility expected
Crude exports from three key Libyan oil terminals — Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Marsal el-Hariga — had resumed after a week of protests, state-owned National Oil Corp. said Sept. 16.
But industry sources and analysts expect Libya to remain very prone to supply disruptions as the dispute between the oil ministry and NOC persists.
NOC said export operations at 300,000 b/d Es Sider, 150,000 b/d Ras Lanuf and 250,000 b/d Marsa el-Hariga had resumed after its chairman Mustafa Sanalla and board of directors met with some of the protestors and “listened to their demands.”
This comes amid a power struggle between Libya’s Oil Minister Mohamed Oun and Sanalla.
Loading operations at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were halted due to protestors demanding the removal of Sanalla, with support among the local Petroleum Facilities Guard which protects the key eastern ports. At Marsa el-Hariga crude exports were suspended as young graduates blocked the main gate of the key port and demanded jobs.
According to Platts cFlow trade-flow analytics software, at Es Sider the Aframax tanker Thomas Zafiras had just loaded a 780,000 barrel crude cargo, while at Marsa el-Hariga the Mikela P tanker had started to resume loading its full cargo, cFlow data showed, after demonstrations affected loading operations for more than a week.
However, sources expected more disruptions to occur in the coming days as NOC had not signed any formal agreement with protestors.
“Nothing concrete [was signed]; no agreement whatsoever. They just had a meeting and discussed issues. No concrete steps [have been taken],” said a source.
S&P Global Platts Analytics expected more disruptions ahead in Libya as the dispute between NOC and the oil ministry lingers, with December elections expected to be another flashpoint.
“Several factors raise red flags: the coordination of protests throughout the east, a recent history of terminal shutdowns by a likely unplacated eastern general Khalifa Haftar, and the potential for a disruptive struggle over oil sovereignty and revenues before or after the elections,” it said in a recent note.
Libyan crude production had averaged 1.15 million b/d so far this year, according to Platts estimates, as it faced issues arising from its exhausted infrastructure and a lack of funds.
A significant portion of Libya’s aging infrastructure has been wrecked by a civil war, militant and terrorist attacks, and general neglect over the last decade.