Libya’s giant El Sharara oilfield was shut down on Sunday after a local landowner closed a valve in protest against pollution near a pipeline crossing his land.

The closure, which was confirmed by an oilfield engineer and separate Libyan oil sources, is a major blow to the North African country a little more than a week after a guards’ protest closed the nearby El Feel oilfield.

Sharara has capacity of 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) and had been pumping about 308,000 bpd last week, more than one quarter of Libya’s national output. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) operates Sharara in partnership with Repsol, Total, OMV and Statoil.

“I closed the pipeline that crosses my land. The land is six hectares and it has become wasteland,” said Hassan Mohamed al-Hadi, the landowner in the western Zintan area.

“We closed the pipeline last year for the same reason. A number of mediators had intervened to persuade me to reopen it within 20 days for cleaning the land, but unfortunately the same thing has returned.”

Flows from Sharara in the southwest of the country were not getting through to the Mediterranean port of Zawiya, an oilfield engineer said, confirming the closure.

A decision on whether to declare force majeure on exports from Sharara would depend on the expected length of the interruption, one oil source said. (Reuters)