By Laura Hurst and Maher Chmaytelli
Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp. declared a force majeure on oil exports from the country’s Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and El Brega ports, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.
“The above mentioned sea port terminals are closed due to Oil Security Guards who are on strike at these locations since the end of July 2013, which resulted total shutdown for these facilities and cease of all exports,” NOC said in the document, which is dated Aug. 18 and signed by Chairman Nuri Berruien.
An NOC official confirmed the force majeure, a legal clause that excuses the seller from making deliveries because of events beyond its control. Libya is currently exporting about 500,000 barrels a day, using the port of Zawiya and offshore loading platforms at the Mellitah, Al Jurf and Bouri fields, while another terminal, Hariga, will probably resume exports, at about 180,000 barrels a day, either tomorrow or the day after, the NOC official said.
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Libya’s production has fallen to less than half the level pumped before the 2011 uprising against Muammar Qaddafi. Prolonged losses from the holder of Africa’s biggest reserves, coupled with disruptions in Iraq and lower inventories, prompted Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to boost its Brent oil forecast.
Brent crude prices may rise to $115 a barrel in the “very near term,” Goldman said in a report earlier today, raising its three-month price forecast for the benchmark grade to $110.
Es Sider, the largest of Libya’s oil terminals with a capacity of 350,000 barrels a day, has been shut since July 28 because of a sit-in by the Petroleum Facilities Guard, Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi said on Aug. 13.
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The dispute is crippling the government’s main source of revenue, costing at least $1.6 billion, Al-Arusi told reporters in Tripoli on Aug. 15. Prime Minister Ali Zaidan has warned that only NOC-contracted vessels will be allowed to dock at Libyan ports, threatening to remove or bomb unauthorized tankers if they attempt to berth.
Libya produced 800,000 barrels of crude a day last month, down from 1.6 million a day one year earlier, according to a monthly Bloomberg survey of OPEC production.
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