Libya needs to find new oil buyers after a drop in output to 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to protests has led to an increase in competition from Algeria and Nigeria, Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said on Saturday.
A mix of militias, tribesmen and civil servants have seized most oil ports and fields to demand more political power or higher pay, cutting off Libya's oil exports, its economic lifeline.
“We are facing a big problem because oil from Algeria and oil from Nigeria has entered the Mediterranean [market],” he told al-Naba television station. “We have started looking for new markets in east Asia to offset the loss.”
He did not say how much Libya is exporting, but his deputy told Reuters last week that up to 50 percent of output was being used to keep the 120,000 bpd Zawiya refinery running.
Arusi said the government was facing difficulties in drafting a 2014 budget due to the drop in production from 1.4 million bpd in July to 250,000 bpd now.
“We have a problem now. How are we supposed to prepare the budget?” he said, adding that initial planning had assumed output of around 1.3 million bpd.
He said that only the El-Feel field, offshore operations and fields belonging to state-owned Sirte Oil Co in central Libya were still producing oil.
Arusi said the abrupt halt in production had also affected pipelines and other oil facilities.