Libyan largest oil field, the Sharara field, may lose around 8,500 barrels per day (b/d) of crude because of looting, Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) said on January 3.

NOC announced earlier in December that it is keeping the Sharara oilfield closed despite pressure from officials to pay off the protesters who shut it down.

“The legitimate and rightful concerns of the Southern Libyan communities are being hijacked and abused by armed gangs, who instead of protecting the field to generate wealth for all Libyans, are actually enabling its exploitation and looting,” NOC’s Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said.

Sanalla warned that this accident will result in many damages to the Sharara oilfield’s infrastructure and losses to the Libyan economy.

The field is the biggest in Libya with production capacity of around 315,000 b/d. Since it was shut down, Libya’s oil production has reduced by around 300,000 b/d.