A Libyan armed group has shut down an oil pipeline in the country's southwest, disrupting output at three oil fields, Deputy Petroleum Minister Omar el-Shakmak told Efe.

The group halted the flow of crude out of the El Feel oil field, which is being developed by Mellitah, a joint venture of Libya's National Oil Corporation, or NOC, and Italy's Eni; the Hamada field that is being operated by the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a NOC unit; and the El Sharara field being developed by Akakus, a joint venture of NOC, Spain's Repsol, Austria's OMV and France's Total, he said.

El Feel yields some 86,000 barrels of crude per day, while Hamada and El Sharara produce 16,000 bpd and 350,000 bpd, respectively.

Repsol's press office declined to provide any information when contacted by Efe.

The shutdown of the pipelines will negatively affect Libya's already faltering crude production, which has been drastically reduced by a wave a protests at several oil ports, the deputy minister said.

He predicted that output could fall to between 300,000 bpd and 320,000 bpd as a result of the shutdown, or less than 20 percent of the country's oil production capacity of 1.6 million bpd.

The deputy minister said the armed group that shut down the pipeline has no ties to striking guards and workers who for the past two weeks have closed Libyan oil ports in the country's central region.

The group also has no connection to oil workers who have recently staged protests at different installations, he added.

Al Asima television said a group of militiamen from the city of Zintan shut down the pipelines in protest over Libya's political and security situation. EFE