Libya's El Feel Oilfield Reopens After Two-Month Protest


TRIPOLI, June 15 (Reuters) - Libya's western El Feel oilfield has resumed production after security guards ended a protest that lasted more than two months, oil ministry officials said on Sunday, but many oilfields and ports remain blocked.

The reopening of El Feel is good news for the weak central government struggling with a budget crisis as a wave of protests at oil installations and rebel violence have dried up oil exports, the country's main source of income.

Three years after a NATO-backed revolt toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's oil infrastructure remains vulnerable as militias, armed tribesmen and Islamists who helped oust Gaddafi now defy state authority and seize government ministries or oil facilities at will.

Libya's oil output had fallen to less than 200,000 bpd in the past few weeks, down from 1.4 million bpd in July when a wave of protests started.

Much of the remaining output is used to feed the Zawiya refinery which supplies the west of the country. Motorists have been queueing for more than a week to refill in the capital Tripoli with some people sleeping in cars.

Acting Oil Minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters authorities had reached an agreement with protesters. "The protesters agreed to reopen the field which restarted work yesterday and today," he said.

Production at El Feel, located in the southwest, will reach 80,000 barrels a day within 24 hours, said Ibrahim al-Awami, head of the ministry's inspection and measurement department.


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