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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Libya's oil supremo expects output to reach Qaddafi-era levels

North African country aims to reach a target of 1.6 million barrels a day from 1.25 million barrels currently

A worker checks pipes and valves at Amaal oil field in Libya. The country is planning to return to pumping oil at pre-2011 revolt levels. Ismail Zitouny / Reuters
A worker checks pipes and valves at Amaal oil field in Libya. The country is planning to return to pumping oil at pre-2011 revolt levels. Ismail Zitouny / Reuters

Libya, one of the most volatile and politically fragmented oil producers, expects to pump as much crude by the end of next year as it did before the 2011 revolt against former president Moammar Al Qaddafi.

The country plans to refurbish its pipeline network and raise output at some fields to reach a target of 1.6 million barrels a day, National Oil Corporation chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in an interview. The North African nation currently pumps 1.25 million barrels a day, he said in the eastern city of Benghazi.

“We’ve put together a plan to boost field production, including pipeline maintenance and addition of new pipelines,” Mr Sanalla said. “We aim to reach 1.6 million barrels a day by the end of next year, and this level can increase.”

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If it reaches this target, Libya would be producing at the level it last maintained in the years before Mr Qaddafi’s ouster and death and the nation’s ensuing civil war. Political divisions and internal fighting have plagued Libya since then. While NOC officials have sought to increase oil and natural gas output, security issues and lawlessness continue to threaten the country’s energy revival.

Oil prices have climbed 15 per cent this year, partly because of disruptions in Libya.

Mr Sanalla spoke Wednesday on the sidelines of an oil conference in the country’s second-largest city. The gathering was unusual because Libya has held most of its oil-related events outside the country in recent years due to security concerns.

Libya’s oil production has risen from 660,000 barrels a day in July, and the increase is helping to offset the impact on global crude supplies from an economic crisis in Venezuela and impending US sanctions on Iran. Libya last pumped 1.6 million barrels a day in July 2012, when production surged briefly during a lull in fighting.

BPand Eni could restart work on a project in the first quarter of next year, setting the stage for Libya to ramp up production by “hundreds of thousands of barrels” a day, Mr Sanalla said in a separate interview over the weekend.