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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Libya's NOC Lifts Zueitina Force Majeure Temporarily


Sun 01 May 2022 | 09:53 PM
H-Tayea

On Sunday, Libya's state-owned NOC decided to temporarily lift force majeure restrictions at the Zueitina terminal to ease the risk posed by local stocks of high-wax volumes of Bu Attifel and Zueitina crude.

The port has been under force majeure since 18 April because of protest action. NOC had on 30 April entreated demonstrators to allow at least one shipment of crude to free up stocks. Two vessels could now be allowed to load, one trading source said, although adverse weather conditions may impede operations. The Miaoulis 21 is expected to berth at Zueitina terminal tomorrow, with the tanker Seastar due to load after, a shipping source said.

NOC has been facing challenges in storing Bu Attifel and Zueitina crude at the port, saying the grades must be stirred and continuously heated so that they do not solidify in tanks and pipelines because of their high wax content. This chemical property of the crudes and NOC's inability to carry out critical maintenance because of underfunding has encumbered efforts to store supplies at the terminal, NOC said, noting that Zueitina's tanks leak when firm volumes of the stored crude accrue, as a result of the solidifying wax.

These storage difficulties now risk crude losses, pipeline impairment and environmental damage because of the tank leaks, NOC said.

Zueitina has been under force majeure since mid-April, alongside eastern terminal Marsa el-Brega and the 300,000 b/d El Sharara and 70,000 b/d El Feel fields. Other smaller fields have also been forced to lower output. NOC has yet to mention lifting FM at any other of its impaired assets.

At least 1.2mn bl of crude is currently stored at the Zueitina terminal, a shipping source said, although it was not clear how much of this was Bu Attifel or Zueitina crude. Previous closures at the terminal had not led to similar storage challenges, because lower volumes of crude had been stored at the time, the source added.

NOC said it has introduced 1mn bl of Amna grade crude through the pipeline to Zueitina to counter the solidifying Bu Attifel. Alternative crudes or liquids are typically pumped through pipelines to clear any liquid causing an obstruction, one trading source explained.

Amna, which is typically shipped from the eastern Ras Lanuf terminal, and Bu Attifel are of similar enough quality that injecting the former would not downgrade the quality of the resulting light sweet blend, the source said, with another trader noting that Amna has a lower pour point than Bu Attifel. The injection of Amna for this purpose would nevertheless deprive NOC of further crude volumes available for export.