Reuters reports that foreign workers at Libya’s largest oil field have been evacuated after news emerged on Monday of unspecified activities near the site.
An engineer at the field said a total of 16 workers from Spain, France, the Philippines and Serbia had all been evacuated for two days.
The National Oil Corporation controls the Sharara field, but the state-run company did not comment on reports of the evacuation.
Libya’s largest oilfield, Sharara, has not pumped new oil for several weeks at this point. An attack by an armed group caused the field’s pipeline to its nearest export terminal to close. This development set Libya 330,000-bpd back on its goal of reaching and surpassing pre-Ghaddafi-ousting levels of production. On average, the country pumped 1.6 million barrels of oil per day before the Arab Spring brought the previous dictatorship to its knees.
The El Feel field, another major oilfield, declared a force majeure late last month, sources familiar to the case said, while expressing their hesitation due to the private nature of the matter. The same situation unfolded at the Hamada field, according to Arabian Gulf Oil Co. spokesman Omran al-Zwai.
Before the recent string of production disruptions, which were caused by militant blockades on pipelines carrying crude from three fields to export terminals, Libya was pumping over 1 million barrels of oil daily, eyeing 1.2 million bpd in output by the end of the year. Libya raised output by 154,300 bpd in July, which accounted for most of the total OPEC production increase. The increase in Libya’s production continues to take away from the bloc’s agreement to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day to jumpstart the recovery of oil prices. Top oil officials were able to secure an exemption for the North African country due to the effects several years of civil strife on oil output.