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Libya Desperate To Get Stranded Oil To Market

Oil rig

Libya is looking for ways to get hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil to international markets after fighting shut down its two biggest export terminals, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. S&P Platts reports that the country’s oil production has been slashed from 950,000 bpd in May to less than half a million barrels after the clashes erupted, and the National Oil Corporation is considering redirecting crude oil to the terminals of Brega and Zueitina.

"Production is low, unfortunately. We lost 450,000 b/d just due to the crisis in Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, and we lost another huge quantity from the AGOCO fields due to technical issues," NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla told media in Vienna ahead of the OPEC meeting.

The latest export figures reveal Zueitina and Brega together accounted for 100,000 of Libyan exports in May, versus 350,000 bpd combined for Ras Lanuf and Es Sider. Still, getting some oil out is better than not getting any for the struggling NOC.

The clashes began last Thursday, and by the next day, military sources were saying that the LNA had been driven out of Ras Lanuf and the bigger Es Sider export terminal. Initial reports said the fighting was started by the Benghazi Defense Brigades, an Islamist militant group that the LNA drove out from Benghazi, but later it was revealed that a commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard is also taking part in the latest militia squabble in Libya.

Related: Oil Inches Higher On Strong Crude Draw

Two oil tanks at Ras Lanuf were burned during the clashes, reducing the terminal’s storage capacity to 550,000 bpd from 950,000 bpd. Fighting has not yet affected production, but the loss of storage capacity is enough to cripple exports for a long time.

Libya has the biggest crude oil reserves in Africa, but the country has had a hard time getting back on its feet after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi. A major step in this direction was made in 2016, when the Libyan National Army—a group affiliated with the eastern Libyan government but working in partnership with the NOC—took over the export terminals and returned control over them to NOC.

By Irina Slav for Oiprice.com

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