TRIPOLI, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Libya's oil production has fallen to 390,000 barrels per day, some 70,000 bpd less than last week, as protests have partly blocked flows from the El Sharara oilfield, the state National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Sunday.
Armed groups, former rebels and tribes often shut down pipelines or occupy oilfields to make demands on the state as Libya tries to overcome instability nearly three years after a NATO-backed revolt toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi.
National production is around 390,000 bpd, NOC spokesman Mohamed El Harari said. On Thursday output was 460,000 bpd.
He said the El Sharara oilfield was below its capacity of 340,000 bpd because protesters partially shut down a pipeline near the western town of Zintan leading from the field to the port of Zawiya.
"We hope the government will solve the problem soon," he said. Output at the El Sharara field had been at 301,000 bpd on Wednesday.
Harari said the El Wafa oilfield was again working normally after protesters had on Wednesday shut gas and oil pipelines from the field, which produces around 30,000 bpd of very light oil condensate.
NOC has not published export figures recently but the state firm normally uses around 140,000 bpd of national production to feed refineries in Zawiya and Tobruk.
The demands of protesters were not immediately clear. Tensions in the country are growing over the country's interim General National Congress, whose mandate has officially ended, but whose members have extended its term to guarantee stability.
Political blocks in the Congress are deadlocked over how to proceed with the fragile transition to democracy.
Rival brigades of former rebels and militias are loosely aligned with competing factions within the Congress, with some demanding its dissolution and new elections, and others supporting its extension.
Armed protesters led by a former anti-Gaddafi rebel have seized three oil ports in eastern Libya since August, cutting off around 600,000 bpd of export capacity, to demand more regional autonomy and a greater share of oil wealth.
Negotiations to end that blockade have gone nowhere, and the government has warned it could resort to force to break the protest that has cost the state more than $7 billion in lost oil revenues.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Anthony Barker)
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