LONDON: Libya is losing $ 30 million a day due to the closure of the El Sharara oil field, the Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame said Thursday.
He added that the United Nations is with any party in Libya that is fighting terrorism, and that his relationship with strongman Khalifa Haftar was “good,” contrary to accusations that he was biased.
“We are working to secure conditions for elections in Libya, most notably law and security,” Salame told Al Arabiya news channel.
He also said he was in the midst of efforts to calm the parties in Libya, and that he was optimistic about the political track of the country if the various parties agreed.
The Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the east of the politically divided country, said on Wednesday it had seized the El Sharara field that produces 315,000 barrels per day from tribesmen and protesters who forced operations to halt when they took the site on Dec. 8.
However, the main production area is still occupied by armed tribesmen, a field engineer told Reuters on Thursday.
The engineer, who asked not to be identified, said a convoy of LNA vehicles had arrived at a substation about 20 km (12 miles) from the main field, which extends for 40 km (25 miles) in Libya’s southern desert.
He said the field perimeter was not fenced off and said the LNA was still trying to negotiate access to the main facility with the tribesman and protesters, who had taken the field demanding salary payments and development funds.
The National Oil Corporation, the state-owned oil firm based in the west of Libya, shut production as a result of the protest and declared force majeure, a waiver on its contracts.
The LNA, loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a commander whose powerbase is the eastern city of Benghazi, had demanded on Wednesday that production resume and force majeure be lifted.
NOC and the internationally recognised government, also based in the Tripoli in Libya’s west, declined to comment.
Oil output from the OPEC state has been disrupted since conflict erupted in 2011 and a political wedge was driven down the middle of the country. Protesters and armed groups have often targeted oilfields and energy infrastructure.