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The Seadelta tanker bound for Italy, has finally left the port of Ras Lanuf. This is the first export cargo of crude oil from Libya since 2014, the oil exports coordinator at the port told AFP. The shipment totaled 776,000 barrels. It will be followed by the Syra, which will load 600,000 barrels at Ras Lanuf and deliver them to Italy, another port official told Bloomberg.
The North African country’s oil export terminals were until last week under the firm control of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, an armed militia affiliated with the UN-backed government. Then, control over Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, El Sider, and Al-Brega was wrestled from the PFG by the Libyan National Army, which was quick to invite back the National Oil Corporation.
The loading of the Seadelta was interrupted over last weekend, when the PFG tried to retake Ras Lanuf but the LNA forces managed to stop the attack. The LNA is loyal to the eastern government of Libyan, the House of Representatives, which has no international recognition.
Meanwhile, Libya has been expanding its oil production as well. September has so far seen an average daily output of 450,000 barrels, according to Ibrahim Al-Awami, a NOC official. To compare, in August, the average daily output in Libya was 260,000 bpd. Now, some fields are being restarted after fighting subsided and production is growing.
While this is certainly good news for the war-torn North African country, which has the biggest crude reserves on the continent and before the civil war, pumped 1.6 million bpd, it’s not as good for traders.
Time and again the market has swung on just the possibility of Libya restarting oil exports. Now that this has become a fact, a drop in prices is also in order. On Tuesday, however, both most popular benchmarks closed with a gain, thanks to a 7.5-million-barrel weekly decline in U.S. oil inventories, estimated and reported by the American Petroleum Institute.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.