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Libya's Hariga oil port still closed, protesters remain

Source: Reuters - Mon, 30 Dec 2013 01:52 PM
Author: Reuters
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TRIPOLI, Dec 30 (Reuters) - The Hariga oil export port in eastern Libya remained closed on Monday despite an oil official saying last week it was set to return to service after months of closure that have starved the country of revenues.

The state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said Hariga remained closed due to a protest by local people who have occupied the terminal since August.

The port was still closed but officials were "looking forward to hearing good news from Hariga," NOC spokesman Mohamed al-Harari said.

The adjacent Sarir and Messla oilfields were operational but could not pump crude to Hariga as tanks at the port were full, he said.

An oil official on Friday said the port, located in Tobruk in the country's far east, would reopen within days in the latest in a series of announcements about bringing the closure of ports to an end.

Tribesmen and other protesters have occupied Hariga to press demands for political autonomy and a greater share of Libya's oil wealth.

The port has an export capacity of 110,000 barrels per day and also serves the Tobruk oil refinery which is working at a capacity of 20,000 bpd, according to NOC.

Two weeks ago, the Tripoli government had expected a heavily armed autonomy group in eastern Libya to lift the blockage of the Ras Lanuf, Es-Sider and Zueitina ports previously accounting for 600,000 bpd after tribal elders pressured it.

But autonomy leader Ibrahim Jathran declared at the last minute that talks with Tripoli to get a greater share of oil revenues for the east had failed.

Jathran's and other militias involved in oil strikes in the east and other parts of the country helped topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but have kept their weapons, fuelling concerns about instability in the North African country.

Pressure has been building on militias and tribesmen seizing ports and fields to allow the resumption of oil exports, the main source of revenues for the national budget and food imports. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; editing by Anthony Barker and Jason Neely)

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