Armed men blew up a pipeline pumping crude oil from Libya’s south to a port terminal in its north, Es Sider port on Tuesday, cutting Libya’s output by up to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), military and oil sources said.
The state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in statement output had been reduced by 70,000-100,000 bpd. The Corporation couldn’t confirm the cause of the blast.
The attackers reportedly arrived at the site near Marada in two cars and planted explosives on the pipeline, a military source said.
Pictures purportedly showing a huge cloud from the blast in central eastern Libya circulated on social media.
#Breaking: #LNA sources accuse islamist militants from ‘the #Benghazi Defense Brigades’ of blast targeting the main pipeline linking the Sidrah terminal and #oil fields belonging to al-Waha company. The attack took place about 30km northwest of Maradah. #Libya pic.twitter.com/DjDqj0qQHk— The Libya Times (@thelibyatimes) December 26, 2017
The damage was still being assessed, one oil source said. Oil prices rose on the report.
Islamic State fighters had a presence in the area until government forces expelled them from their main stronghold in Sirte a year ago.
The operator of the pipeline is Waha, a subsidiary of the NOC and a joint venture with Hess Corp, Marathon Oil Corp and ConocoPhillips.
Waha pumps a total 260,000 barrels a day, its chairman said last month.
The North African state’s oil production was last put by officials at around one million bpd but exact figures are hard to obtain in a country riven by factional conflict.
Following the blast, the price of U.S. Oil climbed to $60 per barrel, the highest since June 2015. This was partly attributed to voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts.
Libya produces around one million bpd, but production is regularly disrupted by acts of sabotage, as well as protests over wages or politics.
With estimated oil reserves of 48 billion barrels, Libya used to produce 1.6 million bpd before the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi