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After an electrical failure at the Sarir oilfield caused by a fire at a substation, Libya’s oil production has fallen by 60,000 barrels per day, National Oil Corp. head Mustafa Sanalla said on Monday.
The authorities have not yet offered any details as to when the production will be back online, or how much damage was caused by the fire.
Prior to the malfunction, production was about 700,000 barrels per day at of the start of January, and Libya is eyeing a production of 900,000 barrels per day within the next few months and 1 million barrels per day by the end of this year.
Libya has managed to more than double its crude oil output from 300,000 bpd in September, thanks to the reopening of oil ports in the Oil Crescent, which were held for nearly two years and used as bargaining chips by the Petroleum Forces Guard (PFG).
The saving grace of Libyan oil production has been the retaking of key oil installations by the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Haftar. The freeing of these export terminals has allowed exports to resume, along with production.
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The increase was also made possible by the resumption of pipeline operations from two major fields in the western part of the country, Sharara and Elephant. News of the reopening of the pipeline carrying oil from Sharara and Elephant (also called El Feel) came in December when the PFG said it had ended a two-year blockade of the facility, but there were doubts as to how quickly full-scale production from the fields could resume, especially given the continuing political turmoil in the country.
From a technical standpoint, NOC's ability to ramp up oil production remains limited in the absence of supporting oilfield service companies (OFS) such as Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
As Libya continues to struggle with political instability, the most recent technical fault takes oil offline at a critical time, reducing Libya’s ability to meet its goal of 1 million barrels per day by year’s end.
By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com
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Damir Kaletovic is a veteran investigative journalist covering Europe and the Middle East, and a senior consultant for Divergente Research.