TRIPOLI, June 10 (Reuters) - Libya's state-owned oil company will open exploration and refining operations in the southwest of the country to meet demands for jobs from protesters, who have halted output at its major El Feel oilfield.
Flows at the field, which can pump 130,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), and which is located in Libya's southwestern desert, were halted at the end of May.
The stoppage was a taken as security precaution after a group of protesters, made up of local residents and guards, staged a demonstration demanding jobs and payment of salaries.
A statement published by Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) on its website that it will open an exploration facility in Sabha and a refinery in Ubari.
"The damage is serious and dangerous," Libya's Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said in the statement. "The production rate (at the site) may be reduced to its lowest level if they continue their demonstrations."
An engineer at the field, who declined to be named, said the demonstration was still ongoing, production was still shut down, and that most of the workers had left the field.
El Feel is a joint venture between NOC and Italy's Eni . Eni declined to comment.
OPEC member Libya's fast return to almost pre-war oil output levels of 1.6 million bpd has been hurt by disruptions, mainly protests and strikes, that have briefly cut production.
(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Louise Heavens)