Libya’s 70,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) El Feel oil field stayed shut on March 8 despite the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) saying it had reached a deal to reopen it, a field engineer and local mediator said.

El Feel was closed on Feb. 23 after PFG withdrew from the field to push demands over pay and other benefits.

Some workers returned to the field on March 7, but on March 8 others were still absent and the field’s operations had yet to resume, an engineer at the field said.

Hassan Bedy Abubaker, a former guard who now acts as a mediator, said earlier on Thursday that guards had not yet returned to their positions at El Feel.

PFG leadership in Tripoli said on March 7 it had struck a deal to reopen El Feel, but there was no comment from the National Oil Corp. (NOC), which operates the field in a joint venture with Italy’s Eni.

A PFG leader from El Feel, Abubakar al-Suki, who had been detained for questioning in Tripoli earlier in the week, was released on March 8 at the request of the attorney general, said Ahmed Bin Salem, a spokesman for Tripoli's Special Deterrence Force.

It was not immediately clear what impact Suki’s release could have on a possible restart at El Feel.

The NOC has called for the prosecution of those responsible for blockading oil facilities.