Libya Oil Port Ships First Cargo Since 2014 as Fighting Ebbs

(Bloomberg) -- A tanker sailed from Libya with a crude cargo bound for Italy after a halt in fighting between rival armed forces enabled the OPEC country to resume exports from its third-largest oil port for the first time since 2014.

The Seadelta left the port of Ras Lanuf overnight Tuesday with 781,000 barrels of crude, Nasser Delaab, petroleum operations inspector at Harouge Oil Operations, said by phone. The vessel earlier had to interrupt the loading and move offshore due to a clash over control of the terminal. A second tanker, the Syra, began taking on 600,000 barrels of crude at Ras Lanuf on Wednesday and was to set sail after a 10-hour loading, Delaab said.

The shipments are good news for Libya’s economy as rival administrations struggle to form a unified national government amid a five-year conflict over energy resources and political power. Libya is seeking to ramp up crude output and exports, which withered after the central government’s authority collapsed following the 2011 ouster of former dictator Moammar Al Qaddafi. 

Largest Reserves

Earlier this month, state-run National Oil Corp. ended measures that had curbed exports from the nation’s main oil ports of Es Sider, Zueitina and Ras Lanuf. Only one of the country’s nine oil-export terminals -- Zawiya -- remains closed, due to the shutdown of a pipeline that supplies it, Ibrahim Al-Awami, head of the NOC’s oil measurement department, said by phone. Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserves and pumped 1.6 million barrels of crude a day before Qaddafi’s ouster.

For more on Libya’s oil ports and terminals, click here

The company that loaded the Seadelta’s cargo is OMV AG, the Vienna-based oil business with refineries in central Europe and equity in Libyan fields, according to two people with knowledge of the shipment and who asked not to be identified because the information is private. An OMV spokesman, Robert Lechner, declined to comment. The Seadelta is expected to arrive in Trieste, Italy, on Sept. 24, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

Libya has boosted crude production by more than 70 percent since August as some oil fields resumed output and other ports also reopened for their first overseas loadings in more than two years. The nation’s crude output rose to 450,000 barrels a day, Ibrahim Al-Awami, NOC’s head of oil measurement department, said by phone on Tuesday. Production was 260,000 barrels a day last month, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The Seadelta will be delivering its cargo into an oversupplied market in which crude is trading at about half its 2014 levels. Benchmark Brent crude was up 1.4 percent at $46.54 a barrel on Wednesday at 5:17 p.m. in Dubai.