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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.