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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Will Oil And Refugees Force European Intervention In Libya

Will Oil And Refugees Force European Intervention In Libya

Europe is on track to send security experts to Libya after it successfully installed a so-called unity government that is willing to work with international agencies. A primary goal of this move will be to address the problem of the smuggling of people to Europe.

The move is in the planning stage. EU officials have declared that help will be sent should the new government, called the Government of National Accord (GNA), ask for assistance, which it did earlier this week. The GNA has asked for help from the EU in general, with an emphasis on restoring the security of the country and dealing with militant groups. Related: $91 Billion In Capex Cuts, A Serious Hangover For Oil

European officials have underlined that Europe’s involvement in Libya will not be military, but it seems this is a temporary decision. First of all, the GNA is not recognized by other unofficial governments that control different parts of the country, so its stability is questionable—at the very best. Second of all, the EU is treading very cautiously lest it should create the impression that it is “jumping the gun,” as one EU official told Reuters.

Be that as it may, realistically speaking a military involvement would be difficult to avoid given the extent of Libya’s problems, which are spilling over into Europe through the overwhelming migration that the continent cannot deal with. But Europe is militarily motivated beyond the refugee crisis.

Oil—which one can almost always find below the surface of any military action—is a big motivator. Since Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, Libyan oil output has steadily declined, reaching a paltry 396,000 barrels in January this year. Related: Oil Price Rally Unwinds As Strike In Kuwait Ends

The EIA chart below shows production fluctuations in Libya for the last six years, as well as the causes.

(Click to enlarge)

Now, Libya has been an important source of crude for Europe and its energy industry. Italian Eni, French Total SA, and German Wintershall all have a major presence in the country. Disruptions to supply caused by militant activity are not good for Europe. They are “good” for oil prices, however, and what’s good for oil prices in terms of upward potential, is good for Saudi Arabia. In fact, there are suspicions—none of them proved and all in the realm of rumor and theory—that the desert kingdom is arming some Islamist groups in Libya precisely to ensure the further disruption of its oil production.

In this respect, Europe’s interests are in direct opposition to Saudi Arabia’s. Related: Eni Hopes To Develop Supergiant Gas Field By 2017

But swinging back to the other motivating factor—refugees—the European Union is desperate to get out in front of this, particularly in the wake of its pact with Turkey, which has worked to decrease the influx from the Balkans but increases the likelihood of migrants taking the North African route, via Libya.

It is barely feasible at this point to eliminate the North African route without a military intervention, an intervention that will happen if the GNA simply asks for it. At this point the story will be about oil security, oil infrastructure, and getting production back on line. And if we see a return to Gaddafi-era production figures, we’re looking at production of over a million barrels per day, and a much worse glut than we have right now.


By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • John Scior on April 24 2016 said:
    Interesting article. I think people forget about Libyan oil supplies being restrained as Syria and ISIS grab the headlines.
  • Michael Adams on April 26 2016 said:
    I love a straight faced comedian.

    "Will Oil And Refugees Force European Intervention In Libya?"

    Ha! I suppose it could work backwards. European intervention in the form of a R2P no fly zone covering the EU’s bank robbery via mercenaries (called rebels) and a gold rush to steal Libya's gold plus the giant aquifer in S. Libya certainly caused the failed state syndrome. All this shut down the oil flow and created all the current refugees and as a bonus got rid of that pesky Libyan stability.

    "...the EU is treading very cautiously lest it should create the impression that it is “jumping the gun,” as one EU official told Reuters."

    If I remember correctly, the jumping of the gun was in 2011 when the western backed, western trained, western armed mercenaries posing as militant Libyan rebels wearing MSM camouflage, destabilized Libya as the second act in the overthrow of Libya's sovereign government and the plunder of its wealth.

    The first act was to form a National Bank before they even considered starting a provisional government. Talk about "jumping the gun"! I don't know if they ever got around to the government but they did get away with the gold.

    The juicy part is that the Libyan refugees are highly educated and will take a lot of jobs in the already depressed EU member States. This will make the EU with its slavish devotion to U.S. & .01%er policy, even more popular with the citizenry. Of course the .01%ers may also be compensating for the low birthrate in the EU which mostly has aging populations. Such a deal!

    Another possible benefit it that these refugees could introduced the concept of extended families and the tradition of suicide assassins to a population that had no counter to a well protected oligarchy. Assassins who are willing to give their lives for their extended families, their tribes, or their countrymen, are orders of magnitude more dangerous to corrupt greedy oligarchs than even the most professional assassins who want to survive their assassination attempts. Austerity crazed politicians and their demented owners would likely think twice about going after elderly peoples Social Security and/or food stamps with that kind of aging population. Time will tell.

    As an analogue: The Rand Corporation probably made it’s biggest blunder in it’s design of the strategy for the Vietnam war when it assumed that all people will make decisions with their own individual best interest in mind. Because of this, Rand misjudged what could be accomplished by human beings (A social animal) who were dedicated to a social cause. We see what happened and still hear the excuses of the “American” “patriots”.

    The irony is that the Rand Corporation with all its efforts to apply mathematics to all problems made a supposition that could well come from the amphetamine buzzed mind of Ayn Rand the malignant narcissist and sociopath who never met a scientific concept she couldn’t distort.

    And so it goes.

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