Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has announced force majeure at the Sharara oilfield, halting production due to local protests.  

The Sharara oilfield, capable of producing up to 300,000 barrels per day, is one of the largest in the country.  

Force majeure is a declaration that legally absolves the company from its contractual obligations due to circumstances beyond its control. 

Located in the Murzuq basin in south-east Libya, the Sharara field has been subject to frequent shutdowns due to local and political unrest.  

Instability in Libya’s oil production has been ongoing since the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.  

In a statement, NOC said: “The National Oil Corporation has declared a force majeure on the Sharara oilfield effective Sunday, 7 January 2024, due to its closure by protesters.” 

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By GlobalData

The recent closure has also led to the suspension of crude oil supplies to the Zawiya terminal on the Mediterranean coast. 

NOC stated that it is actively engaged in negotiations with the protesters to restart production as soon as possible.  

The Sharara oilfield is operated by NOC through the Acacus company, in partnership with international energy companies including Repsol, TotalEnergies, OMV and Equinor

According to Reuters, the field was shut down last week by protesters from the Fezzan region in southern Libya, who are demanding public services and development projects.  

“The loss of confidence in the continuity of supplying the global market with Libyan oil will result in Libyan oil remaining unmarketed,” the country’s oil and gas ministry said in a statement last week. 

It added that the closures of oil facilities “have serious consequences, and it may be difficult to quantify and explain all the damage it may cause”. 

In a similar incident in July last year, operations at the Sharara, Elfeel and 108 fields were halted by tribal protesters following the abduction of a former finance minister.