Can Libya Boost Oil Production To 2 Million Bpd?

April 12, 2018

Since the ousting and subsequent killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s oil production has remained below capacity. With the lingering effects of civil war, the country which is a member of OPEC has struggled to boost oil production in its major oil fields. Despite registering an increased average output of 828,000 barrels daily in 2017, Libya has failed to attain the production levels realized during Gaddafi’s reign.

Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa with an estimated 47.1 billion barrels in reserves. The country has also been ranked 9th in the world In terms of existing oil reserves. Despite this, Nigeria is currently the leading producer of oil in Africa.

Back in the 1970’s, Libya was producing 3 million barrels of oil per day. This identified Libya as a key supplier of sweet crude oil to Europe. At the time of Gaddafi’s death, the country’s crude production sank to about 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. Currently, Libya is struggling to maintain a production level of 1 million barrels per day.

Build Up to Reduced Oil Production in Libya

Much of the slowdown in daily oil production in Libya relates to the aftermath of the 2011 rebel uprising backed by NATO. With Gaddafi toppled, the fragmentation of power in the country and the use of oil production facilities as bargaining chips created an adverse environment for oil production.

With the lawlessness and instability that ensued after Gaddafi’s fall, the nation experienced an shutdown in oil production. Outages in the giant Sharara and El Feel oil fields have weighed on oil production and exports ever since.

Activities by rebel groups also played a big role in derailing oil production in Libya. With the fragmentation of power, different armed groups cut off production in major oil fields and ports.

According to Reuters, the haphazard shutdown of oil wells led to reduced oil pressure resulting in further outages.

Current Instability Issues Hampering Oil Production

While the security situation has improved somewhat since 2016, oil production in Libya continues to face challenges.

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