Libyan ports that buoyed Brent crude seen reopening within days

Ports in eastern Libya that helped boost international oil prices when they were halted four months ago are within days of reopening, the head of the nation’s energy-protection force said.

Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, with combined capacity of 600,000 barrels a day, and a third port, Zueitina, will reopen on Dec. 15, Idris Bukhamada, head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a group that protects Libya’s oil installations, said by phone from Ajdabiya today. Ibrahim Al Jedran, a former regional PFG commander whose men blockaded the terminals, agreed to the resumption after intervention by the Al Magharba tribe, Bukhamada said. Al Jedran himself said resumption depends on certain conditions being met.

Disrupted exports from Libya has helped buoy the price of Brent crude, a global benchmark, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the International Energy Agency. Brent’s premium over U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate narrowed to $10.83 a barrel as of 1:50 p.m. in London today, from $16.97 at the end of last month.

“It would mean a relatively big boost in supply coming out of Libya,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. in London, adding that there is still uncertainty about whether a resumption can take place as soon as Dec. 15.

Libya’s crude output will rise to 1.5 million barrels a day within 10 days, from about 250,000 barrels currently, because political protests that have disrupted supply are being resolved, Libyan Oil Minister Abdulbari al-Arusi told reporters in Vienna on Dec. 3.

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