News / Economy

    Chaotic Libya Struggles to Maintain Oil Output

    FILE - In this photo from February 2011, an employee works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya. FILE - In this photo from February 2011, an employee works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya.
    x
    FILE - In this photo from February 2011, an employee works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya.
    FILE - In this photo from February 2011, an employee works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya.
    Reuters
    Libya is struggling to keep its oil output stable, let alone increase it, as protests cut crude exports in the sector that supplies 95 percent of state revenue.
     
    In the past year, disgruntled Libyans have protested at oilfields and export ports, clouding initial optimism over a speedy return to output levels of nearly 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) following the 2011 war that ousted Moammar Gaddafi.
     
    The state National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on its website output had slumped to less than one million bpd following “irresponsible acts by some individuals” who shut down two export terminals and a major oilfield.
     
    “The industry is suffering and this cannot go on as it is,” a senior Libyan oil industry source said. “These kind of problems keep recurring and this is hurting the whole of Libya.”
     
    The new leadership has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of armed groups who have the real power on the ground in a country awash with weapons left over from the war.
     
    Protesters, usually with social demands, have forced Tripoli to comply with their requests before ending sit-ins or turning valves back on.
     
    In the latest headache for the industry, the operator of the major El Feel field, a joint venture between the NOC and Italy's Eni, halted output as some 50 protesters staged a demonstration, calling for jobs and salaries. El Feel, which lies in Libya's southwestern desert, can pump up to 130,000 bpd.
     
    In the east, protesters forced the shutdown of the Zueitina and Marsa al-Hariga terminals but workers there said on Tuesday operations were resuming after the demonstrators had left the sites. Zueitina has faced numerous disruptions this year.
     
    “If the protesters go to local councils, nobody will listen to them. But if they go to the oilfields or terminals, they have everybody's attention,” a Libyan oil worker said. “This problem keeps happening and the government doesn't know how to cope.”
     
    Costly Disruptions
     
    Without specifying, the NOC said the latest output cuts were costing the country “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost income.
     
    A prolonged drop in output could be disastrous for state finances, already strained by salary spending which now includes tens of thousands of former rebel fighters from the war.
     
    Last month, a committee overseeing Libya's energy industry within the national assembly, said those who forcefully closed down installations should be held accountable in court.
     
    But with state security forces and courts still weak, enforcing such action remains a mammoth task. A 15,000-strong force guarding oil sites lacks proper training and equipment and its members have at times fought amongst themselves.
     
    “We need a government to make strong decisions and guards to protect oilfields,” Yussef al-Ghariani, of an oil workers' union in the eastern city of Benghazi, said. “Every delay is costly.”
     
    In April, oil flows hit 1.55 million bpd, according to the oil ministry, which has previously said OPEC-member Libya aimed to increase output to 1.7 million bpd from the third quarter.
     
    But with continuous disruptions due to the protests and sometimes technical problems, this target now appears elusive.
     
    “The trend is going in the wrong direction. They are struggling to keep production at 1.3-1.4 [million bpd] whereas they were hoping to be raising it and hitting new peaks,” Richard Mallinson, of consultancy Energy Aspects, said. “The likelihood is only that it will get harder and harder to maintain levels we have seen over the last few months as protests continue and the situation does not improve.”
     
    Foreign oil companies are increasingly unsettled by sporadic violence and oil services firms are not rushing to send workers back to Libya.
     
    “You just don't know where things are going. People who were already worried about coming here will be even more reluctant,” one foreign oil worker said, declining to be named.
     
    With the continuing chaos tainting Libya's image abroad, oil market players are factoring in more disruptions.
     
    “Every time you get news of one situation being resolved, you just wait and expect to hear what is the next field that is being shut or obstruction to a terminal,” Mallinson said.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8812
    JPY
    USD
    112.18
    GBP
    USD
    0.6939
    CAD
    USD
    1.3961
    INR
    USD
    68.436

    Rates may not be current.