Libya Works to End Oil Sector Strikes as Output Rises
TRIPOLI, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Libya's government is working to end protests at oil facilities that have cut exports, and its oil production has risen to nearly half its normal rate, its top oil official said on Monday.
Disruptions to the North African OPEC producer's oil sector risk crippling its economic lifeline and choking off state revenues.
As part of the latest wave of unrest, security guards seeking more pay have shut down the major export terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. Protests that involved demands by local people for more oil jobs had already closed the Zueitina terminal earlier in July.
Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said the three terminals were closed on Monday as strikes entered a second week. Shipments have amounted to about 425,000 barrels per day (bpd, less than half normal levels, said oil traders.
"We are meeting the families of the protesters today to reach a solution to the crisis. We have also appointed a new head of the oil security force," Arusi told a press conference.
"Production has improved greatly to around 700,000 barrels a day and will reach 800,000 barrels a day after the Eid holiday," he said. The Muslim holiday of Eid begins later this week.
Arusi said last week that a new wave of unrest had cut output to 330,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million.
Before the unrest, Libya's production had nearly recovered to the 1.6 million bpd rate seen before the civil conflict that led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
(Reporting by Feras Bosalum; editing by Jane Baird)
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