Libya is producing about 204,000 bpd of crude oil at the moment, an unnamed source has told Bloomberg, as a blockade of the country’s export terminals and several fields enters its third week.
This is the lowest production level since 2011, when Libya’s civil war began, and a drop from about 1.2-1.3 million bpd pumped before the blockade. Last month, the head of the National Oil Corporation warned that production could fall to zero if the blockade continues.
Forces affiliated with the Libyan National Army, itself affiliated with the eastern Libyan government that is fighting the UN-recognized one in Tripoli, seized Libya’s oil exporting terminals in mid-January as well as several pipelines feeding oil from the nearby fields. This in turned prompted the shutdown of the fields, dealing a severe blow to Libya’s production that was on its path to recovery after years of outages.
Following the blockade, NOC declared force majeure on oil exports with Sanalla warning that losses could reach $55 million daily. New outlets estimated lost barrels at between 500,000 and 800,000 daily. Yet the current production number, as revealed by the Bloomberg source, shows losses have exceeded 800,000 substantially, reaching 1 million bpd.
As of the end of January, the blockade had cost Libya some $560 million, Petroleum Economist reported last Friday, adding that NOC’s Sanalla had once again appealed for help to Western powers. So far, however, help has come in verbal form only, the West unwilling to engage directly in Libya.
The blockade could continue for months, according to one analyst. “There is...potential for the oil blockade to stretch on for months as both sides refuse to back down,” Hamish Kinnear from Verisk Maplecroft told Forbes’ Scott Carpenter.
The LNA under General Khalifa Haftar, last year began a surprise offensive against the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord with the ambition to oust it and establish the control of the eastern government and get access to the oil money of Libya. The offense is ongoing, with peace talks failing miserably to produce any results.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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