Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) said on Feb. 24 it had declared force majeure on the 70,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) El Feel oil field after a protest by guards closed the field.

El Feel was shut after guards withdrew from the field to push demands over pay and other benefits earlier this week.

The NOC said force majeure was declared on Feb. 23 after “members of Fazzan group from the Petroleum Facility Guards (PFG) threatened workers, entered the administrative offices in the field, tampered with official papers of the field administration and fired in the air.”

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla was quoted in the NOC statement as saying the guards were attached to the ministry of defense, and it was up to the ministry to respond to their demands.

“The NOC supplies the PFG members in the field with fuel and supplies, but cannot supply hundreds of those who claim to be members of the PFG in areas far and away from the scope of the oil sector operations,” he said.

The numbers of such claimants “are constantly growing”, the statement said.

The field is operated by a joint venture between state-owned NOC and Italy’s Eni (NYSE: E).

Crude from El Feel is blended with condensate from the Wafa Field to form the Mellitah blend, which is exported from the Mellitah terminal.

Guards at Libyan oilfields are often drawn from local groups, and have repeatedly disrupted production over claims of late payment of salaries and demands for local development projects.

Many at El Feel come from the Tebu ethnic group present in southwest Libya.

“The NOC is in contact with all the social leaders of Tebu tribe to find a solution for the return of calm to the field and resume operations as soon as possible,” the statement said.