Libya's oil flows at 750,000 bpd, recovery

Libyan oil output has climbed to 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) and remains on track to reach pre-war production levels by the end of next year, the chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Nuri Berruien said on Thursday.

Before the February uprising, Libya pumped some 1.6 million bpd, but civil war brought flows to a standstill, cutting off exports of around 1.3 million to the international market.

Berruien said that on November 15, the NOC had taken over oil sales from Benghazi-based Agoco, which had shared control over them since the uprising began in February.

He said that confusion over a recent tender by the eastern subsidiary arose from an overlap, but full responsibility would ultimately return to the NOC. Agoco issued a tender to sell 1 million barrels of Sarir grade crude oil, a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.

"We agreed on a cut-off point on 15 November, that was the handover, but that doesn't mean there isn't an overlap, because NOC started earlier and Agoco may have one case," he said, adding the NOC would be in charge of purchasing products, mainly gasoline, as well as oil sales

The oil chief said the Zawiyah refinery had returned to its full capacity of 120,000 bpd, raising Libya's onstream refining capacity to 160,000 bpd. However, Libya's largest refinery, accounting for around two-thirds of its refining capacity, is likely to remain offline until the end of the year.

"All other small refineries are on full production, we are still waiting for Ras Lanuf. Hopefully before the end of the year, we will get Ras Lanuf," he said, referring to the largest oil refinery.


Berruien said a new era of transparency would guide Libya's future oil transactions.

"Every cargo, we are going to put on our website ... We have the source of the crude, the amount, the pricing and the date of the lifting and the month of pricing. It's never been done before," he said.

Libya's interim oil minister Ali Tarhouni, now replaced by the newly appointed Abdurrahman Ben Yazza, had previously promised to scrutinise all oil deals agreed during the rule of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Today nothing has been investigated, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't investigate. If we feel there is anything that is not right, we will look into it," Berruien said.

During the conflict, Agoco promised half of its early crude production to trading firm Vitol as payment for fuel supplied to rebels during the uprising.

"Vitol was the only company at the beginning of the conflict that responded to the queries sent by Agoco. There were some other companies who did submit (offers), but their offers were higher than Vitol's, mainly because they were asking for the war-risk insurance," Berruien said.

"Right now, some of the payment back to Vitol is done by giving them certain crude, but if their price is competitive."

He said oil proceeds would go straight to the Treasury, which will have to allocate the money to other sectors.

He reiterated the NOC had not spoken with British firm Heritage Oil about its reported $19.5 million purchase of a controlling stake in Benghazi-based Sahara Oil Services in October.

He said Heritage Oil had met NOC representatives in Benghazi months ago, but it was just an introductory meeting.

When asked about the Greenstream gas pipeline to Italy, Berruien said its line capacity was at 600 million cubic feet per day: "It restarted less than three weeks ago, at about 350 (million cubic feet), now it's building up."

(Source: Reuters)

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