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The oil industry of Libya, Africa’s largest oil producer before 2011, is in crisis and its crude production remains little more than one-third of the level recorded five years ago, an updated reported on the Libyan oil industry published by the US’ Energy Information Agency (EIA) says.
“Libya is currently going through another crisis that has crippled its oil sector,” the EIA says. “From January to October 2015, Libya’s crude oil production averaged slightly more than 400,000 barrels per day (b/d), significantly below the 1.65 million b/d that Libya produced in 2010.”
The EIA says that Libya’s production had increased from 1.4 million b/d in 2000 to 1.74 million b/d in 2008, but production remained well below peak levels of more than 3 million b/d achieved in the late 1960s. Output from the 1970s to the 2000s had been affected by the partial nationalisation of the industry and later by sanctions imposed by the US and the UN.
The rebellion against the government of Libya’s late leader Muammar Gaddafi and the subsequent international intervention deal a devastating blow from which the oil industry hasn’t recovered
“In mid-2013, a blockade at several major eastern ports led by Ibrahim Jidran, a branch leader of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), coupled with protests and closures at oil fields and pipelines in the west, caused the shut-in of most of Libya’s oil production,” the EIA says. “Oil production recovered somewhat during the second half of 2014 after deals were made to reopen some major ports, but by late 2014 major disruptions restarted and output has not recovered.”
The EIA says vital oil infrastructure has been attacked or caught in cross fire, leading to severe damage that would take years to repair.
“During the 2011 civil war, oil infrastructure, for the most part, was not damaged or targeted,” the EIA says. “However, in December 2014, the eastern Es Sidra export terminal, Libya’s largest export terminal, caught on fire after it was hit by a rocket. Many of its storage tanks were severely damaged, significantly lowering its export capacity. In addition, groups claiming to be affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have severely damaged pipelines and vital equipment at oil fields in the eastern Sirte region that were operated by the Waha Oil Company, which includes companies from the United States, and an oil field operated by Total.”
Libya also produces an estimated 50,000 b/d to 100,000 b/d of non-crude oil liquids, including condensate and natural gas plants liquids. These mainly come from the Mellitah natural gas processing plant, a natural gas processing plant at the Intisar complex, and an NGL plant in Marsa al-Brega.