(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libya’s internationally recognized National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in Tripoli has announced its plans to restore the country’s oil output which has dropped to less than a quarter of the 1.6 million barrels per day that the country previously produced before the ousting of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, reported Reuters.
The country’s oil output has decreased dramatically due to years of conflict between Libya’s various political and armed groups, shutdowns, and attacks carried out by ISIS.
The NOC stated that the first phase of the three-stage plan includes re-establishing oil production in areas such El Sharara and Elephant, which have a combined capacity of producing 430,000 bpd, within the next three months.
The official stated the second phase could take around six to eight months, while the third phase may take several years to complete depending on the cost and the length of time it will take to reopen fields and export terminals that have been attacked and damaged.
“All those plans depend on security. If proper and robust security at the oil facilities is not in place, then our plans will be in jeopardy,” stated the official in an interview with Reuters.
Direct attacks and threats to Libya’s oil fields by ISIS militants are the main reason why oil fields have been shut down and evacuated, with the latest attacks on Ras lanuf and Es Sider terminals in December resulting in a loss of 600,000 bpd of oil exports.
With the establishment of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which is currently in the process of unifying all of Libya’s political parties, there is hope that the country can restore oil output and reopen terminals as Libya almost exclusively relies on oil exports for revenue.
The GNA has called on the eastern government’s House of Representatives (HOR) based in Tobruk to fulfil their duty as is required of them under the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and give their vote of confidence to the unity government and transition its armed forces under the GNA.
The GNA stated that it would take all necessary measures to thwart any terrorist threats and any attempts by other political parties or rebel groups to target oil fields or unlawfully sell Libya’s oil for their own gain, warning that only through unification can Libya defeat ISIS and move forward as a country.
Any unlawful attempt at crude oil exports could impede international efforts to unite the country under the new GNA.
Earlier this week the eastern government attempted to illegally ship 650,000 barrels of crude from the Eastern Libyan port of Hariga before being blacklisted by the UN sanctions committee, in a move that could further destabilize the country.
NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla, in an interview with Reuters, stated that Libya currently loses $30 million daily due to shutdowns, resulting in a loss of over $68 billion within the past three years.
The NOC is optimistic that the unity government will be able to create a unified security force to protect Libya’s vast oil infrastructure.