- TRIPOLI - An agreement has been reached to re-open Sharara, one of Libya's main oilfields, which has been shut down over the past few months by a group of demonstrators with the Tuareg minority who were demanding more rights for their community, government sources said on Tuesday.
The sources said that Defence Minister Abdullah al Thinni signed an agreement with protesters providing for the creation of a local elected council and national identity cards for the non-Arab Tuareg community living in the city of Ubari.
The agreement also plans to build a medical centre with an ambulance in the area.
Sharara, in south-west Libya, in the region of Fezzan, is co-managed by Spain's Repsol and has a capacity of 350,000 barrels a day.
Tuareg rebels forced its closure several times.
Major oil terminals in the eastern part of the country instead remain closed over strikes by security guards which have been ongoing since the end of July last year.
The halt in crude oil production and exports has led to a crisis which has brought down the Libyan economy with losses of over 10 billion dollars.
Demonstrators accuse the government of corruption for selling an undetermined quantity of oil and are demanding a wage hike, better working conditions and more gains on export revenues.
According to authorities, protests are the excuse used by federalists to seek greater autonomy in the eastern region. The demonstration are indeed led by an ex-revolution chief at the helm of security guards in the largest oil terminals in the east, Ibrahim Jadran, who became over the past few months the head of the political office of Cyrenaica which proclaimed the region's autonomy.
Authorities in Tripoli have been trying to negotiate a solution.
The premier has travelled on a number of occasions to Cyrenaica and then announced a 67% increase for oil sector workers, threatening to use force. But Jadran did not give in and terminals in the area remain closed.
Oil production hit a record low in 2013, with 110,000 barrels a day from the 1.6 million produced in the Gaddafi era.
The Libyan economy mainly relies on oil which makes up 95% of exports.(ANSAmed).