Libya’s Zueitina port has received its first oil tanker after temporarily lifting force majeure last week to free up storage space.
While Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) did not issue a statement, NOC sources told LIbyan media that the Melos 21 oil tanker had docked at Zueitina for loading, after which it will sail to China.
Libya’ declared force majeure on Zueitina, along with its largest oil field, Al-Sharara, and the El Feel oilfield in mid-April amid anti-government protests over the way oil revenues are distributed.
On April 30th, the NOC issued an urgent statement warning that the situation at the Zueitina terminal was critical, calling for force majeure to be lifted for safety and to prevent excessive damage to storage system, which can leak when crude oil levels reach a certain level, noting that bottom of the tanks cannot bear the weight.
A day later, the NOC was given permission to temporarily resume operations at Zueitina, with two vessels reportedly allowed to load.
Libya is now losing some $60 million per day due to the production shutdowns, according to the country’s oil minister.
“Production has fallen by about 600,000 barrels a day,” half of the prior level, Oil Minister Mohammed Aoun told AFP last week. “Calculating the sale price at $100 a barrel, losses are at least $60m daily,” he said.
Since last week, things have been quiet on the political front in Libya, as the leaders and backers of two rival governments jockey for position behind the scenes both internally and with external power brokers.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has further muddied the waters.
Until recently, prime minister-designate Fathi Bashagha from the east seemed confident that he, backed by General Hafter of the Libya National Army (LNA), would be able to march into Tripoli and take over the government peacefully. Lately, however, he has been silent, as Haftar loses favor due to the support Russia affords him, along with the Wagner mercenary force fighting in both Libya and Ukraine.