News / Africa

Libya’s Oil Output Drops Further

In this March 5, 2011 file photo, an anti-government rebel sits with an anti-aircraft weapon in front an oil refinery, after the capture of the oil town of Ras Lanouf, eastern Libya. The official Libyan news agency said Sunday, April 6, 2014 that the country's main militia in the east has agreed to hand back control of four oil terminals it captured and shut down last summer in its demand for a share in oil revenues. The shutdown has cost Libya millions of dollars. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
In this March 5, 2011 file photo, an anti-government rebel sits with an anti-aircraft weapon in front an oil refinery, after the capture of the oil town of Ras Lanouf, eastern Libya. The official Libyan news agency said Sunday, April 6, 2014 that the country's main militia in the east has agreed to hand back control of four oil terminals it captured and shut down last summer in its demand for a share in oil revenues. The shutdown has cost Libya millions of dollars. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Libya and South Sudan oil

Joe DeCapua
Libya has much of the world’s highest quality crude oil. But since the fall of long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, production has been sporadic and on the decline.
 
After assessing Libya’s political instability, violence and armed groups battling for control, John Kingston summed up prospects for the country’s oil industry this way:
 
“There’s essentially no good news there.”
 
Kingston is director of news for Platts, which provides information on the global energy, petrochemical, metals and agriculture industries. He said during Gadhafi’s rule, Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels a day.
 
Listen to De Capua report on Libya and South Sudan oil
Listen to De Capua report on Libya and South Sudan oili
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“Their quality of crude is extremely high. So, for production of transportation  fuels, like gasoline and diesel, if you lose a barrel out of Libya, you have to produce more than a barrel of heavier crude somewhere else to make up for it. Not all barrels are alike. And a Libyan barrel is more equal than others,” he said.
 
But not much is getting to market these days.
 
“Less and less,” he said, “That’s the problem. In fact it seems that exports out of a port called Marsa El Hariga, which was a very important port, appear to have stopped. And as a result of that the Libyans are returning to crudes that they were exporting to serve their own needs. So that’s lesser exports there.”
 
The port closed after just reopening last month. But even when Marsa El Hariga was open, April exports averaged just 167,000 barrels a day. With the port closed, exports should drop further.
 
“It can’t get much worse in terms of supply. I mean if you’re down to under 200,000 barrels a day, which is what it looks like right now, you could easily go to zero,” he said.
 
Asked whether Platts knows who’s in charge of Libya’s oil sector, Kingston said,” No, we don’t and nobody is really in charge of the oil fields. And it’s not just a question of the fields, really, it’s a question of the ports. The fields are located miles away from any kind of population centers. So, the issue here is the logistical system that’s needed to export this oil. That is what is in turmoil as a result of there [being] no central government and various rebel groups are in charge of some of the port facilities. So, that’s the problem.”
 
In March, a militia group had attempted to sell some of the country’s oil. They loaded it on a tanker, which was thought to be destined for North Korea. Libya’s weak government was opposed to the sale. Its efforts to seize the tanker failed, reportedly because of rough seas and bad weather. It also had threatened to bomb the vessel. It never got the chance. President Obama ordered U.S. Navy Seals to commandeer the ship.
 
Kingston said that the militia had little chance of success, anyway, since it was not part of the international banking or shipping systems.
 
The longer-term concerns in Libya, he said, are the country’s underground oil reservoirs. These are porous or fractured rock formations that contain oil or natural gas. There’s a good chance they’re being damaged.
 
“Oil reservoirs are kind of a fragile thing, and they need tender loving care at all times. If you shut-in production it tends to damage the reservoir. So, even if democracy broke out tomorrow and everybody was peaceful in that country, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to get back up to the level that you were pre-Gadhafi overthrow anytime soon,” said Kingston.
 
Platts is also monitoring developments in South Sudan, which has been mired in conflict since December.
 
“There is a place in South Sudan called Unity State, and production there remains shut-in that probably has taken 40 to 50,000 barrels a day off of the markets. So, every barrel matters particularly when markets are relatively tight, which they are. But South Sudan is just yet one more country in a line-up of countries that are wracked by some level of strife that has tightened the world oil supply. Libya is at the top of that list,” he said.
 
Kingston said Sudan’s oil production has not been affected by the South Sudan conflict. Production remains around 50 to 60,000 barrels a day.
 
Other countries where various problems recently affected oil production include Iran, Venezuela and Syria. The conflict there has removed about 250,000 barrels a day off the market.
 
“So when you add up all those it’s a real murderer’s row of problems. Luckily, the United States and Canada have continued to increase their production, particularly the U.S., and that has softened the blow,” he said.

Kingston said that the U.S. has been able to sharply boost oil production due to techniques that extract oil from shale deposits.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs