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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs