Libya’s Oil Output Falls as Pipelines Creak From War-Era Neglect

Since the closure of a leaking pipeline, Libya’s oil production has fallen by around 200,000 barrels, underscoring how difficult it is for the country to sustain its production following nearly a decade of civil war.

In the wake of the decision of Waha Oil Co. to shut down the pipeline bringing crude to the eastern oil port of Es Sider, the country’s largest, the OPEC member’s production dropped to around 1 million barrels per day. The state-owned National Oil Corp., which manages Waha and made the announcement on Facebook late Saturday, said the repairs could take two weeks, although it hopes that in half that time they can be completed.

The pipeline “could no longer continue to operate due to the large number of leaks, and it’s worn out,” the NOC revealed. “What happened with Waha today happens daily with other companies that suffer from a budget shortage. They are also under the threat of having to reduce their production and to even halt it completely.”

After a ceasefire between rival military powers, Libya’s daily production soared to 1.25 million barrels this month from nearly nothing in September. This has created problems for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, which, after their coronavirus-induced collapse last year, are limiting supplies to bolster oil prices. Libya is excluded from the curbs due to its strife.

According to Bloomberg, for much of the time after former leader Moammar Al Qaddafi was ousted in 2011, the country has been at war. About June, the Tripoli-based government, recognised by the UN, and the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, stopped fighting.

But, near the central city of Sirte, their forces are still encamped and thousands of foreign mercenaries are present throughout the region. In order to run Libya before elections scheduled for December, the two sides are trying to form a unity government.

The NOC is struggling to repair oil fields, storage tanks, pumping stations, pipelines and ports, while Libya has Africa’s largest crude reserves. Some have been destroyed, while others, due to neglect, are corroding. The NOC has said that it lacks the resources to conduct the repairs.

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