Libya will resume crude exports from two of its biggest oil ports within one week after clashes that forced Islamic State militants to pull out of the area, according to the commander of the petroleum guards in the region.
Crude exports will resume from Es Sider, the country’s biggest oil port, and Ras Lanuf, the third-largest, and which have been closed since 2014, Ibrahim al-Jedran, a regional commander of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard, said in a phone interview. The exports will be under the authority of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, which is seeking to reunify the divided country, he said.
Some “minor technical problems” related to the transportation network between the oil storage tanks and the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports due to damage, inflicted during clashes since last year, will be fixed within a few days, al-Jedran said.
“The oil ports are now safe after Islamic State pulled back away from them toward Sirte,” he said. “The petroleum guards are now capable of guaranteeing the safety and security of oil tankers seeking to use the ports.”
News of the reopening of the ports that had been exporting more than two thirds of Libya’s oil comes after the Petroleum Facilities Guard captured towns from Islamic State militants last month. Rival leaders of Libya’s National Oil Corp., reached an agreement last week to unify the state company under a single management, a step meant to help end the conflict over who can control the divided country’s crude exports and revenue.
Libyan oil officials have made multiple predictions over the past few years that crude production or exports were poised to climb only for those increases to fail to materialize. The nation pumped an average of about 330,000 barrels a day this year, on course for the smallest annual supply in decades, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude reserves, split into separately governed regions in 2014, leading to the establishment of rival NOC administrations. The Government of National Accord is trying to extend its authority over the country. In the five years since the ouster of the country’s longtime ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s oil installations have been attacked and its crude output has slumped.
The NOC competing administrations also reached an agreement that allowed crude exports to resume from the port of Hariga in the east in May, easing a bottleneck and allowing for oil production to increase slightly to about 320,000 barrels a day.
Libya pumped about 1.6 million barrels a day before Gadhafi was ousted from power in 2011. It’s now the second-smallest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.