ENI, an Italian oil and gas company that has the biggest stake of any foreign player in Libya's crude production, has said its wells are pumping close to pre-war levels, the first oil company in the country to do so.
The firm is now producing 270,000 barrels per day (bpd), just short of the 280,000 bpd to flow out of ENI's wells before the outbreak of the civil war that ended Muammar Qaddafi's rule.
"We are almost where we were," said Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of ENI, during a visit to Tripoli on Saturday.
The company resumed production in September after the end of hostilities.
Mr Scaroni's assessment was preceded this month by a statement from the state-owned Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which said it was closing in on its pre-war production, and would be back to full pumping capacity of 400,000 bpd by the end of the month.
At a meeting last month of Opec, Nuri Berruien, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), said overall production had passed the 1 million bpd landmark.
The rate of the recovery has surprised some observers, who predicted the speed of the shutdown, and the high wax content of Libyan crude, would significantly damage the production infrastructure.
The provisional government in Tripoli said it expected pre-war production of 1.6 million bpd to resume by the end of the year. But Abdullah El Badri, the Libyan head of Opec, has previously said he expected this goal will be reached by the middle of next year.
Libya plans to raise production capacity to 2 million bpd within five years, Abdul Rahman ben Yezza, the oil minister, said at the last Opec meeting on December 14. Analysts believe the pace of recovery will not be maintained.
"It is going to become progressively more difficult for them to increase production further. There was a lot of damage done, a lot of theft of equipment and, more importantly, there's a serious shortage of qualified manpower," said Paul Stevens, a senior research fellow from Chatham House, a London think tank.
Industry sources say the production infrastructure survived the armed conflict between Qaddafi loyalists and the National Transitional Council relatively unscathed, but damage to the transport infrastructure is still impeding the country's oil export capacity.
"There are several reasons why one has to produce less or is subject to constraints," said an official at an international oil company that is increasing production in Libya. "Pipelines are often damaged, and tanks aren't able to take the necessary volume, and the logistics aren't back up to speed," said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.
A reshuffle of personnel as the new government tries to rid the NOC and the oil ministry of Qaddafi hardliners will also cause disruption to the sector, added the official.
ENI also has a stake in gas exports from Libya, sharing ownership with NOC in Agip, the company that owns the Greensteam gas pipeline connecting the country with Italy. The pipeline resumed exports in November, and now transports 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the European country.
France's Total, Spain's Repsol, Germany's Wintershall and Austria's OMV are the other main foreign energy firms operating in Libya.