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Libyan port protests spread

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Operations at two ports in eastern Libya have been disrupted by protesters today.

Demonstrators calling for the dismissal of Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of state-owned oil firm NOC, have reassembled at the Es Sider terminal, blocking a crude tanker from loading its cargo. A protest has also halted loading operations at the nearby Ras Lanuf terminal, which primarily exports Libya's Amna crude grade and smaller volumes of Sirtica. It is unclear if the two protests are connected. A shipping source said negotiations are being carried out with the Ras Lanuf protesters.

The tanker Kriti Bastion was due to load at Ras Lanuf today, a trading source said. At Es Sider, the tanker Yannis P finally managed to berth yesterday after being forced to wait at anchorage since 4 September, but shipping sources say it has been blocked from loading today. The port's entry gate has been repeatedly closed since the protests started at the weekend as demonstrators try to stop port workers from entering.

The Yannis P had been due to collect 1mn bl of Libya's flagship Es Sider grade on 7-8 September, with shipping data suggesting the vessel was chartered by trading firm BGN International. NOC subsidiary Waha Oil, whose output feeds into the Es Sider grade, has not reported any interruption to its production. Port blockades, if prolonged, can result in output declines because Libya has limited storage capacity.

A third set of demonstrations has taken place this week at the port of Tobruk, whose gate also serves the nearby Marsa el-Hariga terminal. Protesters there were graduates requesting employment.

NOC has yet to declare force majeure on crude exports from any of its ports, according to traders.

Argus - By Ruxandra Iordache