Libya’s El Sharara oilfield, one of the OPEC’s biggest ones producing about 200,000 barrels per day remains closed down. The closed field is a result of the country’s political and military struggle between rival armed factions earlier this month. According to the commander of the guards protecting the El Sharara oilfield, the men that had shut down the field were forced out of the area by local tribes. At the same time, a number of El Sharara workers allied to an armed group that is currently controlling the country’s capital, Tripoli. The future of the oilfield is now in the hands of the negotiators how are involved in discussions with tribal elders trying to end the stand-off over El Sharara.
The battle for the oilfield is part of a broader fight in Libya, where competing armed groups and factions are struggling to get control of energy resources already three years after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. Prolonged rioting has caused major disruptions in the country’s oil production capabilities, and recently blocked also the pipeline leading to the Zawiya port in Zintan territory. The Zawoya refinery is located about 40 km west of Tripoli and currently produces about 120,000 barrels a day.
Before El Sharara was closed, the country had been making a recovery when it was able to produce approximately 900,000 barrels a day in September this year. Crude oil is Libya’s major foreign export and the entire industry generates about 95 percent of the country’s income. Since the beginning of the civil strife, which some think could still turn into a protracted civil war, oil sector has been among the worst hit industries.