Workers at Libya’s El Sharara oil field are ready to resume production with an initial output of 80,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) but are still waiting for approval from state oil firm NOC, a field engineer and trader said Feb. 27.

An NOC spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The 315,000-bbl/d field deep in Libya’s southern desert has been closed since December when state guards and tribesmen seized it to make financial demands.

NOC said on Feb. 26 it was ready to lift force majeure, a contractual waiver for clients declared in December, if armed men behind the closure got evicted. The Tripoli-based government had said on the same day it was working with NOC to do so.

In a possible sign that work might resume soon, a plane landed on Feb. 26 at the nearby El Feel oil field to bring workers for this and the El Sharara Field, an engineer said.

It was this first flight in more than two weeks when eastern military forces controlling the area had imposed a no-fly zone for any plane without its permission.

“No permission has been given yet by NOC to restart El Sharara,” one field worker said, adding this could happen in next days.

The eastern forces took this month control of both fields as part of an offensive in southern Libya and handed the El Sharara field to an oil protection force, part of which is blamed for the shutdown in December.

Pressure has been building on NOC to reopen El Sharara. On Feb. 26, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla met in the United Arab Emirates with the Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.