Libya's closed Sharara oilfield is expected to lose 8,500 barrels per day (bbl/d) to looting, state oil company NOC said Jan. 3.

NOC declared force majeure on Dec. 17 at Sharara, its biggest oilfield, after it was taken over on Dec. 8 by tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments and development funds.

Three security breaches and looting have taken place at the 315,000 bbl/d field over two weeks, NOC said, reiterating its calls for the implementation of emergency security measures to allow Sharara to be reopened. The internationally recognized government and NOC agreed on a security plan last week to protect the Sharara field and NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla warned on Jan. 3 that attacks on the field could destroy the Sharara system and damage the economy.

“The legitimate and rightful concerns of the Southern Libyan communities are being hijacked and abused by armed gangs, who instead of protecting the field to generate wealth for all Libyans, are actually enabling its exploitation and looting,” Sanalla said.

OPEC member Libya had previously boosted output to up to 1.3 million bbl/d.

NOC runs the field with Spain's Repsol, France's Total, Austria's OMV and Norway's Equinor, formerly known as Statoil.