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An Eerie Calm Descends Over Libya As Oil Production Falls

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

There has been little movement in Libya since the cancellation at the 11th hour of elections scheduled for December 24th. Damage to a pipeline this week took another 200,000 bpd offline, but the NOC said on Thursday that repairs had been completed and it was expected to be back online by Friday. That outage came on top of the major outage at Sharara, Libya’s largest oilfield, which was shut down in a spat between the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) and the National Oil Company right before Christmas. That takes an estimated 350,000 bpd offline. Right now, there is an eerily calm tension on the ground as various factions strategize. Libya is now producing around 700,000 bpd–the lowest in more than a year–despite its ambitions to produce more oil. The production outage is due to repair work on a pipeline.

The Islamic State has again found a way to get its hands on Syrian oil, which the U.S. is no longer protecting. Instead, the oilfields in eastern Syrian are protected nominally by the SDF (a Kurdish militant group whose existence and support in Syria largely depends on ISIS remaining a threat). After a series of attacks directed at oilfields, reports are now emerging that the Islamic State has implemented an organized crime “protection” racket that will net it 20% of oil proceeds. The SDF is allowing this (and gets its share as well). Syrian media reported that the largest US base in eastern Syria,…

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