TRIPOLI, Libya, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- While the country's infrastructure still needs repairs, Libyan oil executives expect oil production to inch closer to pre-war levels by next year.
The National Oil Co. in Libya said oil production has reached 840,000 barrels per day, about half the level before the onset of conflict in March.
Nasser el-Ghali Sharif, chairman of the Zawiya oil refinery west of Tripoli, said full production could return as early as March.
"I expect that by the end of the first quarter we'll get back to where we were," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.
He said his refinery was already producing oil at the level it was before the war, noting fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi didn't want to strike the oil industry's primary infrastructure.
"It's costly to repair (some of the infrastructure) but I call it slight damage because I can operate with it," he said.
Sami Zaptia, director of Tripoli consultant group Know Libya, told the BBC the interim government didn't have the authority to engage in signing new contracts but many of the old ones would be honored.
"Those countries who stood with Libya will get some kind of nod, some kind of preference," he said. "But that does not mean this will not be a transparent system."