Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Libya's Waha Set To Restart In December - Official



LONDON—Waha Oil Co., the last major Libyan oil company yet to resume production, is set to pump crude again next month after a management change ended a crippling strike, an official at the company said Tuesday.

Khaled Othman, a Waha Oil Co. construction supervisor and one of the strike's leaders, said, "We will go back Saturday to the field, [and] I am confident [production] will start sometime in December."

Othman and other Libyan officials said employees are coming back to work after new chairman Ahmed Ammar took charge at the company. Workers had gone on strike in September to protest the leadership of Waha's then-chairman Bashir Elashahab, who allegedly had ties to the regime of strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Before Libya's conflict, which ended with the death of Gadhafi last month, Waha Oil produced more than 350,000 barrels of crude oil a day—over 20% of the country's production.

But the end of the strike at Waha is lifting a key hurdle to the ramp up of Libyan oil production, which has already resumed faster than expected after the war brought it to a standstill last February.

The company's fields are partly owned by Marathon Oil Corp. , ConocoPhillips and Hess Corp. --the largest Libyan oil operation with ties to foreign companies. Representatives for Hess and ConocoPhillips declined to provide a time frame for the resumption of production. ConocoPhillips said it "will resume operations when the business and security environments are able to support them."

Write to Benoit Faucon at benoit.faucon@dowjones.com

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