Libya’s oil production tumbled to the lowest since the 2011 uprising against former leader Muammar Gaddafi as a blockade on the country’s ports entered into its third week, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
Current output is 204,000 barrels a day, said the person, who asked not to be identified because information hasn’t been made public.
Libya’s observed crude and condensate exports fell in January to their lowest level in a year after forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar blocked oil shipments from the country’s main terminals. Loadings averaged 731,000 barrels a day in January, down from 917,000 barrels in December, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Forces loyal to Haftar began closing export terminals in mid-January in the run-up to peace talks with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli. That prompted the state-run National Oil Corp. to slash crude output, which had been running at about 1 million barrels a day in recent months.
As a result of the closures, NOC declared force majeure on supplies, allowing Libya — which is home to Africa’s largest-proven oil reserves — to legally suspend delivery contracts. The country has almost no storage capacity that could allow onshore fields to continue pumping even though exports are curtailed.
Libya accounted for two-thirds of the 500,000 barrel-a-day drop in oil production from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries last month. The group’s output slumped to 28.37 million barrels a day, according to a Bloomberg survey.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told Bloomberg Television last month that output could fall as low as 72,000 barrels within days if the situation didn’t improve. Daily oil production bottomed out at 45,000 barrels in August 2011 during the Nato-backed campaign that ousted Qaddafi, who had ruled for four decades.