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Oil Minister: Restart Of Libya's Oil Output Hard To Predict

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Libya's oil minister says there was no clear timetable for the resumption of steady oil output as an end to the stand-off with rebels could still falter.


TRIPOLI/LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - Libya's oil minister said on Wednesday there was no clear timetable for the resumption of steady oil output as an end to the stand-off with rebels could still falter and the 9-month port shutdown may have damaged some facilities.

A tanker started loading crude at Libya's eastern port of Hariga for the first time since July on Wednesday - the first positive signal of an end to the four-port blockade by an eastern federalist group led by Ibrahim al-Jathran.

But Tripoli still faces many hurdles to get the bulk of its oil back online. Negotiations to free the country's largest oil terminals are still on-going and a second port that was due to re-open after the agreement last week is still under Jathran's control.

"Zueitina (port) is not ready yet ... because we have still not received a release notice from the Petroleum Facilities Guard. We're expecting this soon ... it has already been almost two weeks since the agreement," Oil Minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters in an interview.

"We will work after we receive a declaration and start with an assessment and then we can remove the force majeure as we did with Hariga."

Oil output was currently around 200,000 barrels per day, with exports accounting for about 70 percent of the volume, Shakmak said, while the western oilfields, El Sharara and El Feel, were still closed by other protesters.

"During at least say the next 4-5 weeks, you can't consider the new volume as the average of exports. The quantities will be part of the crude in storage tanks," he said.


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