Dubai: Libya’s largest oil export terminal may reopen as early as next week in a move that would provide relief for the cash-strapped country holding Africa’s largest crude reserves.

Tankers may be able to load at Es Sider port by next week as maintenance work at the terminal is almost complete, a National Oil Corp. official said by phone on Tuesday, asking not to be identified because he’s not authorised to speak with news media. Es Sider hasn’t exported crude since force majeure, a legal status protecting a party from liability if it can’t fulfil a contract for reasons beyond its control, was declared on loadings almost two years ago.

Libya currently produces 660,000 barrels a day of oil, the official said. This compares with production of about 1.6 million barrels a day before the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime leader Muammar Al Gaddafi. Output withered after international oil companies withdrew amid the conflict between rival governments and armed groups over the nation’s oilfields, ports and pipelines.

Libya, a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is struggling to boost crude production and exports since the NOC reached an agreement in September with Khalifa Haftar, the commander of forces controlling important oil ports. As a result of the deal, the country was able to ship 781,000 barrels from the port of Ras Lanuf on September 21, the first international cargo from that terminal since force majeure was declared in December 2014.

Loading plan

The North African producer plans to ship nine cargoes this month from the eastern port of Hariga, according to a loading programme obtained by Bloomberg. The shipments will total 6.87 million barrels, or the equivalent of 229,000 barrels a day, the plan showed.

Es Sider is ready to export as much as 1.5 million barrels and has storage capacity of 2.5 million, the NOC official said. The terminal has yet to receive formal instructions from NOC to restart, Gaith Abdul Qader, an official in Es Sider’s control department, said in a phone interview.

Al-Waha Oil Corp, which operates Es Sider, resumed production last month and currently pumps 65,000 barrels a day, Abdul Qader said. Al Waha is storing its crude in storage tanks belonging to Harouge Oil Operations Co, he said.