First Published: 2014-08-19

Violence-hit Libya gradually boosting oil output
Libya is returning to oil market despite violence that blocked export terminals for a year.
Middle East Online

BENGHAZI - Libya may be on the brink of chaos but it is gradually boosting output in the vital oil sector after a crisis blocked export terminals for a year, sector executives say.

"The country's production is rising constantly and should return to its level prior to this year if the situation stabilises in the various oilfields," interim Oil Minister Omar al-Shakmak said.

Mohamed Hrari, spokesman for Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), said: "Production on Monday reached 550,000 barrels, up from around 400,000 barrels a day previously."

Hrari forecast "a production level of one million barrels a day (bpd) in September, with an increase in production in the Sharara and Al-Fil (southwest) fields and a resumption of production in other fields in the east, west and south of the country."

Though Libya is currently wracked with violence between well-armed rival militias, the government announced on July 6 that the 200,000 bpd Ras Lanuf and 350,000 bpd Al-Sidra terminals were ready to resume exports.

The announcement was possible following an agreement unveiled four days earlier for rebels to hand back the two terminals in eastern Libya to government control.

The block on the two other eastern terminals, 110,000 bpd Al-Hariga and 100,000 bpd Zueitina was lifted in April but exports have been slow to take off.

Separatist security staff at ports in eastern Libya had prevented all exports since July 2013.

A first export cargo of 690,000 barrels of crude left Ras Lanuf, 700 km (400 miles) east of Tripoli, last week bound for Italy, Hrari said.

Another cargo should leave Al-Sedra terminal "probably next week," he said.

- Winning back customers -

Libya's return to the market has hit oil prices, which slumped to a four-month low in London on Monday before recovering in Asian trade on Tuesday.

Libya may be plunged in chaos, but it has managed to step up daily output from 200,000 to 450,000 bpd, analysts at PVM brokerage in New York said on Monday.

The reopening of Ras Lanuf is a major sign of progress and indicates that Al-Sidra is likely to reopen soon, they added.

Shakmak, the interim oil minister, said: "Libya lost many customers on the oil market while exports were halted for a year.

"These customers went elsewhere," he said, adding: "Libya has managed to win some of them back."

Libya "is trying to regain traditional customers and find new ones, and we will get there," Shakmak said optimistically.

A tanker with 600,000 barrels capacity will arrive "in the next two days at Al-Sidra to take a shipment," said Samir Kamal, NOC's director of oil and gas.

He told AFP that tanks at the terminal currently contain 6.5 millon barrels of crude, stored during the crisis, while Ras Lanuf has 4 million barrels in storage.

"All terminals in the country are in working order except Zueitina, shut because of industrial action we are trying to settle," Kamal said.

The oil crisis has cost Libya $40 billion in lost income this year, specialists say.

The strife led to production dropping to 250,000 bpd from a peak of 1.5 million bpd before the 2011 fall of long-time dictator Moamer Gathafi.

 

UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Iran defies US, tests missile

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq

US, Iranian top diplomats confront each other for first time

Air strikes kill 22 civilians in northwest Syria in 48 hours

Iranian supreme leader lashes out at Trump UN speech

Thousands of Huthi supporters mark 3 years since Sanaa takeover

Iraq attacks all remaining IS territory at once

Moscow accuses US of hitting Syrian regime forces

Turkey jails lawyers representing hunger striking teachers

Turkey, Iran and Iraq make joint threat against Kurd vote

Syrian Kurds to hold first local elections in federal push

Qatari expats lauded as statesmen by Arab critics

Shipwreck off Libyan coast leaves over 100 migrants missing

Will Turkey’s opposition to Kurdish state translate into action?

US ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Macron: Iran nuclear deal no longer enough

Trump’s mind made up on Iran but refuses to divulge

Scores of Iraqis missing during war against ISIS

Netanyahu rejects calls for mixed gender worship at Western Wall

Russia accuses US of missile treaty breach

Iran TV translator mocked for watering down Trump speech

Saudi Arabia hopes Kurdish referendum will not take place

Saudi invites women to sports stadium for first time