Sunday, 01 July 2012 12:40
Libya's largest refinery at Ras Lanuf will not restart in early July as planned, but a petrochemical unit, which does not run on crude oil, will resume operations, a senior National Oil Corporation (NOC) official told Reuters on Friday.
Ras Lanuf, which can process 220,000 barrels of oil per day(bpd), accounts for well over half of Libya's oil refining capacity and is an important source of refined oil products in the Mediterranean region.
The plant was shut during last year's uprising against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi and its restart has faced repeated delays.
But the outage is also having an impact on the crude oil market, as it has freed up volumes of Libyan oil for export and contributed to a glut of sweet crude grades in the region, which have traded at record lows this month.
There was talk among the refinery's customers in Europe that the plant would resume operating in the first week of July after meetings with NOC officials held earlier this month.
"In Istanbul they were saying it restarts in the first week of July," said a trader.
The NOC official did not give a reason for the delay, but others at the state oil firm have previously said a dispute over the price at which the refinery is supplied with crude is holding up its return to operation.
Ras Lanuf is run by a joint venture between Libya's NOC and the Emirates-based Al Ghurair group.
The complex at the site includes a unit that produces petrochemicals, including ethylene, and this is expected to restart in early July, the NOC official said.