Libya’s energy sector crisis continues with protests at a gas facility causing exports to Europe to drop by almost half for a second time this year.

Flows through the Greenstream pipeline connecting Libya to Italy have dropped by 47 per cent since the beginning of October, due to protests at the Mellitah Oil & Gas facilities in the northwest of Libya.

Italian gas imports from Libya dropped to just 9.4 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) on 4 October, down from 18 million cm/d throughout September, according to data from Snam Rete Gas, Italy’s domestic grid operator.

The situation mirrors Libya’s troubled oil sector where exports, the mainstay of its economy, have been hampered by protests at export terminals since May, leading to upstream shutdowns. Production at the end of September was reported at 640,000 barrels a day (b/d), up from a low of 240,000 b/d in the middle of the month, but still significantly below the country’s production capacity of around 1.6 million b/d.

Gas from the Mellitah complex is transported to the Greenstream gas compression facilities, based at the same site, before being pumped to Gela in Sicily and on to mainland Italy. Gas exports were stopped in March following a shutdown after violent clashes between militia guards and local tribesmen just outside the Mellitah Oil & Gas facility. Exports resumed within 48 hours.

Mellitah Oil & Gas is a joint venture of state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Italian oil firm Eni. Its facilities are dedicated to processing and exporting oil and gas from the onshore Wafa, and offshore Bouri and Bahr Essalam fields.