Analyst: Libyan oil recovery has limits

Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:04 AM

LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Libyan oil production is moving closer to pre-war levels though at least one analyst said the pace of recovery for the energy sector could slow.

Paolo Scaroni, chief executive officer at Italian energy company Eni, said during a weekend visit to Tripoli that his company was close to its pre-war production level of 280,000 barrels per day.

"We are almost where we were," he was quoted by Emirati newspaper The National as saying.

Much of the Libyan oil production was shut down last year after NATO-led forces started a campaign in March to prevent government forces from attacking civilians. Authorities at the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the country's oil industry is nearly back to normal but at least one analyst said the pace of recovery could slow.

"It is going to become progressively more difficult for them to increase production further," Paul Stevens, a senior research fellow from Chatham House, told The National. "There was a lot of damage done, a lot of theft of equipment and, more importantly, there's a serious shortage of qualified manpower."

Sources inside the country added that internal political rivalries within the interim government and damage to Libya's transportation infrastructure could drag on overall oil export capacity.

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