Libya restarts gas output

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Libya has restarted its eastern gas fields to feed its large power plants on the Mediterranean, thus reducing the need for diesel after having spent billions of dollars on fuel imports during the seven months of civil war.

Energy firm Sirte Oil's chairman told Reuters gas output has resumed from the Hateiba and Assoumoud gas fields in eastern Libya and supplies were now flowing to coastal power plants.

“We have started producing and sending gas to the power plants of Benghazi and Zuetina. We even sent some power to Egypt the other day,” Sirte Oil Chairman Fathi Issa told Reuters by telephone.

“Soon we won't have to use diesel anymore.”

Fuel imports have been one of the biggest items of expenditure for interim leaders over the past seven months, costing hundreds of millions of dollars each month.

Global trading house Vitol is estimated to have delivered over $1 billion worth of refined products to Libya this year and Qatar has also delivered big quantities.

Violent clashes between Libya's interim leaders and those still loyal to deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi have raged along Libya's eastern coastline since the revolt began in February, leading to a virtual halt in oil and gas production.

Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, which the oil company is named after, is still contested.

Fathi Issa said the Sahl field, also in the desert area south of the Brega terminal, was also in the process of restarting.

The renewed gas production will also help prevent power outages, which are still common in Libya's east.

Sirte Oil is a subsidiary of the National Oil Corp. (NOC).

Issa said Sirte Oil's coastal power plants were now running at around 800 MW out of a total capacity of 1250 MW. - Reuters


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