Libya’s Waha Oil strike over as new chairman named

A strike at Libya oil producer Waha Oil, which pumped around around a quarter of pre-war output, has ended after workers’ demands for a new chairman were met, a workforce representative said on Monday.

The oil and finance ministry had overturned an initial agreement to remove chairman Bashir Alashab, who workers accused of cooperating with former leader Muammar Gaddafi, sparking a weeks-long strike.

The joint venture with U.S. firms ConocoPhillips, Marathon and Amerada Hess produced around around 400,000 barrels per day before the civil war.

“Now we have a new manager for the company,” Haithem Etarhouni, an engineer and representative for the striking workers, told Reuters. “The strike has finished.”

Etarhouni named him as Ahmed Amar, who worked for the company in operations and at its Gialo field, and said he was appointed some 10 days ago. He said Amar will assume the post for six months to a year as Libya prepares for elections.

A Libyan oil industry source confirmed the appointment and said Alashab was now working as a consultant to Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC).

“We agree with Mr Amar because all the workers know him,” Etarhouni said.

He said the NOC was given a short list of candidates and the oil ministry sealed the decision. Waha Oil workers now wanted to head back to the oilfields but security was key, he said.

Waha Oil suffered repeated disruptions during Libya’s conflict. Its oilfields were used as bases by Gaddafi’s fighters, bombed by NATO and then sabotaged by fleeing loyalist militia.

He said two fields, Dahra and Samah, escaped the worst of the war damage. “The oil wells, pipelines, office they are ok … but they need some maintenance,” he said. “The workers are going to go there, maybe at the end of this week or next week.”

Restoration of Libyan oil production is progressing far faster than anticipated, the International Energy Agency has said, but a full return to pre-conflict output levels is unlikely until well into 2013.

(Source: Reuters)

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