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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora