Libyan Oil Port Said to Re-Open as OPEC Nation Boosts Output

TRIPOLI (Capital Markets in Africa) – Libya is re-opening its last major oil-export terminal and producing at the highest level in more than two years as the war-torn country benefits from an exemption from OPEC output cuts.

The Zawiya terminal is preparing to resume exports after the pipeline supplying it was re-opened, an official at the state-run National Oil Corp. said, asking not to be identified for lack of authorization to speak to news media. With Zawiya shipping, all nine of Libya’s main oil ports would be exporting. Eni SpA began drilling an offshore exploratory well northwest of the capital Tripoli and expects to complete it in 65 days, NOC said Thursday on its website.

The country is revving up its oil industry just as most of its OPEC peersare cutting production to counter a glut. It currently pumps 700,000 barrels a day of oil, the NOC official said Wednesday. That’s up from 580,000 barrels a day in November and the most since October 2014, datacompiled by Bloomberg show. Oil halted gains as investors weighed rising Libyan supply against signs that OPEC output began slipping. BenchmarkBrent crude was trading at $56.28 a barrel in London at 9:17 a.m. local time. 

Libya plans to almost double output in 2017. Last month the North African nation re-opened two of its biggest oil fields and loaded its first crude cargo in two years at its largest export terminal, Es Sider. Libya’s comeback will put pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the other major suppliers that agreed to start reducing output this month in a drive to shore up crude prices. Libya is exempt from those cuts as it tries to recover from instability and restore its crude production and exports.

Sharara Field
Libya in December re-opened the Sharara oil field, which supplies Zawiya, allowing for exports to resume from the terminal in western Libya. Almost 1.9 million barrels are set to load from Zawiya this month, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg. That compares with a pumping rate from Sharara of almost 9 million barrels a month as recently as late 2014, before the country’s internal conflict halted flows.

Libya pumped about 1.6 million barrels a day before an uprising in 2011 toppled the nation’s leadership. International oil companies pulled out as rival governments and militias struggled for control of Libya’s energy assets, and oil output plunged to as little as 45,000 barrels a day in August that year. 

With production rising, NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said on Dec. 21 that output would reach 900,000 barrels a day early this year and 1.2 million barrels a day by the end of 2017.


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