A limited reopening of Libyan oil terminals could allow the export of some crude oil and condensate stored at Es Sider, Brega, Zueitina and Hariga, but leaves a months-long blockade of the ports in place, oil engineers say.
East Libyan authorities said on Wednesday they would permit exports of the stored products in an effort to ease an electricity supply crisis that has resulted in increasingly lengthy power cuts.
The ports have been blockaded since January by east Libyan factions as part a wider conflict, leading to the loss of most of Libya's oil production and billions of dollars in income.
A build-up of gas by-products at the terminals and a drop in local refining has led to shortages of fuel for local power generation.
The possible export of condensate and crude stored at Brega and Zueitina ports would allow some oil and gas production by Sirte Oil Co to supply power stations, a local engineer said. Several petrochemical products would also be exported, he said.
Ongoing diplomatic pressure and appeals from the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in the capital Tripoli over lost revenue and damage to idled facilities has failed to lift the oil blockade.
NOC, which handles all exports, is yet to comment on the move. It has also previously warned of a risk of accidents or attacks at the ports amid military mobilisation in the area.
Officials at Ras Lanuf told Reuters this week that products including highly flammable ethylene were safely stored, even though many workers have left the port due to the blockade and restrictions to counter the new coronavirus.
It was not immediately clear how much crude and condensate is stored at the ports. The NOC has struggled to maintain infrastructure in the area during years of fighting and past blockades.
Es Sider has 19 tanks with a storage capacity of 6.2 million barrels of oil, and Waha Oil Co has been working to repair previously damaged tanks and expand storage capacity, an official from the company said.
(Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Potter)