Return of Libyan oil to begin; tanker set to load from Marsa el-Hariga

London — The return of Libya's oil to the market is partially underway as a tanker has reached the eastern port of Marsa el-Hariga to load 1 million barrels of oil from storage tanks, shipping and Libya-based sources said Sept. 23.

Sources said this tanker was chartered by Unipec, which has regularly lifted Libya's Sarir/Mesla crude. Unipec was unavailable for comment.

Mohamed Shatwan, chairman of National Oil Corp subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co. which operates the port, confirmed in a statement that this tanker is loading at the terminal.

Shatwan also said the company had taken the necessary measures and made arrangements to resume production at its fields.

AGOCO operates the Beyda, Hamada, Mesla, Sarir, Nafoora and Majid fields, which have the capacity to produce around 300,000 b/d.

These fields are likely to the first to ramp up as the North African oil producer restarts its beleaguered oil sector.

A second tanker, the Marlin Shikoku, also chartered by Unipec, is also due to reach Marsa el-Hariga in a couple of days to load a 1-million-barrel crude cargo, according to shipping data and traders.

These loadings come after the UN-backed Government of National Accord and the self-styled Libyan National Army agreed to a deal on Sept. 19 to reopen key oil ports and restart oil production.

On Jan. 18, eastern tribes supported by the LNA halted exports from five oil terminals, sharply reducing the country's crude production, which hit its lowest since the 2011 civil war.

Libyan oil output has slumped to 70,000-120,000 b/d in the past few months compared with around 1.10 million b/d before the blockade.

During the blockade, Libya was still exporting oil from offshore fields -- Al Jurf and Bouri -- and occasional condensate exports out of the Mellitah terminal in the west but its main oil terminals were