The Malta-flagged tanker Seadelta, which was due to load 781,000 barrels of crude oil from storage tanks at Libya’s port of Ras Lanuf, has been withdrawn to a safe distance offshore after a fresh outbreak of fighting near the port, according to the country’s National Oil Corporation (NOC).
NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said that the move was made as a precautionary measure and the board were in a meeting with the heads of operating companies in oil crescent area.
“We understand the port of Ras Lanuf itself has not been affected by the fighting so far, though the situation is in flux,” Sanalla added.
The crude oil cargo, which was expected to continue today, is due to be transported aboard the 113,000 dwt tanker to Italy.
Additionally, NOC said a crude oil storage tank at Es Sidra oil terminal, which was previously damaged as a result of conflicts, was set on fire during fighting yesterday morning. The fire was extinguished later during the day, and Sanalla said that they “hope to resume normal operations at all oil ports in the Oil Crescent” today.
Furthermore, NOC called for the immediate reopening of the pipelines in Rayayina which connect the Sharara and El Feel oil fields in southwestern Libya with the Zawia refinery and Mellitah complex in the west of Tripoli.
The financial loss to the country as a result of the stoppages, which started in November 2014 and April 2015, respectively, was estimated to be over USD 27 billion.
NOC said that it could increase production from the two fields by 250,000 b/d within the end of the year, and by 365,000 b/d by the middle of next year if the pipelines were opened.
“We can have oil production back up to 600,000 b/d within a month, 900,000 b/d by the end of the year, and 1.2 million b/d within twelve months,” said Sanalla.
World Maritime News Staff