Libya’s state-run National Oil Corporation said Saturday that violent demonstrations in the south have completely shut down production at the 340,000 barrels-per-day El Sharara oilfield.

Armed groups and protesters are holding the field hostage “as a way to pressure Libya’s weak central government into political and financial demands,” Reuters reported.

“NOC shut the field on Thursday when clashes broke out between gunmen and residents in the nearby Obari area during the election of a body to draft a new constitution for Libya, oil officials said.”

Libya’s production has now dropped below 200,000 bpd, NOC spokesman Mohammed El Harari said Sunday.

Protestors also partially shut down a pipeline to the western port of Zawiya last week, Reuters said.

Libya has struggled to keep its oil industry running since a revolution three years ago toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Production was about 1.4 million bpd before violence in mid 2013 spread through the country’s oilfields and ports.

Oil and gas are the Libya’s only source of income and major source for hard currency needed to fund essential food imports, Reuters said.



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