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Libya’s National Oil Corporation has announced the country’s crude oil output has hit 685,000 barrels per day as of the start of January. The increase was made possible by the resumption of pipeline operation 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 Petroleum Facilities Guard (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 will resume, especially given the continuing political turmoil in Libya.
Now, NOC has said that production at Sharara will return to its daily capacity of 330,000 barrels gradually but did not specify any similar details about Elephant, which can produce 90,000 bpd. Still, NOC added that it hoped output can be raised to 900,000 barrels per day in the next few months.
Libya has managed to more than double its crude oil output from 300,000 bpd in September, thanks to the reopening of the oil ports in the Oil Crescent, which were held as bargaining chips by the PFG. Control of the ports was wrestled from the PFG by the Libyan National Army (LNA), an eastern-government ally, and handed to the NOC.
By the end of 2017, NOC has plans to bring daily production to 1.1 million barrels.
Meanwhile, however, the tension between various factions, chief among them the Petroleum Facilities Guard and the Libyan National Army remains. In a separate news report, NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanallah was quoted as saying that the PFG was involved in fuel smuggling from Libya to Tunisia.
According to local media, this activity has bloomed recently, in spite of the work of agencies such as the Anti-Smuggling Commission and NOC. A new armed group calling itself the Anti-Fuel-Smuggling Brigade has also appeared on the scene, stating it will fight fuel smuggling by attacking the tanker trucks carrying oil products to Tunisia.
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.