Libya’s Minister of Oil and Gas, Mohammed Oun, on Thursday, revealed that oil produced by the North African country has risen to almost one million barrels per day after a blockade of its western fields ended and ports in the east re-opened.
Oun said oil output, which slumped to as low as 700,000 barrels a day rose to 963,000 barrels a day..
Since mid-December, when militias forced western fields, including Libya’s biggest, Sharara, to close down because of a dispute over pay and politics, production has fluctuated dramatically. Earlier this month, a major pipeline was shut for maintenance, and then bad weather closed at least four eastern ports.
Libya’s daily oil output fell from 1.2 million barrels a day last year to as low as 700,000 barrels a day this year. According to reports, Sharara was pumping 200,000 barrels at the time. That amounts to roughly 60% of its capacity.
Exports may still be affected, at least in the next few days, by the closure of ports in the west, also due to rough weather conditions.
Traders are keeping a close eye on Libya. The country has Africa’s largest reserves and any disruptions would prolong the squeezing of the market amidst the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to last year’s 55% surge, West Texas Intermediate crude is already up 10% this year to almost $83 a barrel.
Libya’s production has been volatile as political tensions rise. Elections for the presidency were supposed to be held on Dec. 24, but were pushed back as disputes over the eligibility of candidates threaten to exacerbate conflict or civil war in a country that’s been in conflict or civil war for most of the past decade.
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