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Libyan oil production hits post-Gadhafi high

Total production is close to 1 million barrels per day, according to one set of data, which would be a five-year high.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Libyan oil production hits post-Gadhafi high
Total Libyan oil production, at around 1 million barrels per day, represents a historic record, data show. Photo by Steve Allen/Shutterstock

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Total oil production from Libya in January was close to 1 million barrels per day on average for its highest level in more than five years, industry data show.

Libyan oil production had faltered in the years since the downfall of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, nearly grinding to a halt as a result of simmering civil conflict. Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Libya is a member, reported production last year averaged 817,000 barrels per day, far less than its pre-Gadhafi levels of around 1.5 million bpd.

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Market fundamentals and data reporting group Genscape said its monitoring found Libya produced about 1.08 million bpd in January, the country's highest level since July 2013.

"Based on radiant heat signatures, the fields appeared to operate relatively consistently, which has historically been a struggle for Libya," the group reported.

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German energy company Wintershall last month was able to restart production from the C96 license area, part of the As-Sarah field, which the government said was closed illegally. Production was closed in November following pressure from a municipality that complained the national oil company wasn't meeting local demands.

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Genscape's estimate from Libya is slightly less than that reported by commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts, which put the level at an average of 980,000 bpd. Nevertheless, that would still represent a recent high and a stark improvement from the average of 390,000 bpd reported by OPEC for Libya in 2016.

Platts reported that Libya is still struggling with national security issues, which earned it an exemption last year from OPEC's effort to balance an oversupplied market with coordinated production cuts. Combined with Nigeria, also exempt last year and producing around 1.9 million bpd in January, the two countries agreed this year to a cap of 2.8 million bpd.

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In January, the head of Libya's National Oil Corp., Mustafa Sanalla, said production was linked to the nation's recovery.

"NOC is the foundation from which Libya can be regenerated," he said in a statement. "And if NOC is lost, Libya will take a long time to be put back together."

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