By Irina Slav
Libya plans to pump 2.1 million bpd of crude oil by 2021 if the security situation improves, the chairman of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla, said as quoted by Reuters this weekend.
The ambitious plan would represent a doubling of the current rate of production in the North African country: according to Sanalla, Libya’s output currently stands at 953,000 bpd.
That’s less than what the country produced earlier this year, prior to the latest blockade of the largest field, Sharara, which removed more than 300,000 bpd from the total daily average. However, it’s more than what Libya pumped in the summer when violent clashes at its oil terminals crushed oil production by almost half from the 1 million bpd earlier in the year.
Sharara, on which NOC declared force majeure in mid-December, has yet to resume production when the security conditions for workers improve, Sanalla said, adding that incidents such as the blockade by tribesmen and members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard demanding payments to lift the blockade, are discouraging foreign companies from returning to Libya and helping it to expand its oil production.
However, Sanalla said, BP will be returning to the country and so will Russian companies, which he declined to name.
Last October, BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley told Reuters that BP and Eni will begin exploratory drilling in Libya in the first quarter of next year.
BP has 85 percent in an offshore oil and gas block in the North African country, and earlier this year the Italian major struck a deal with BP to buy half of it. “I’m not sure about this year since it takes time to set up offshore rigs but Q1 for sure,” Dudley said at the time.
Chinese companies might also join BP and the Russians in Libya, according to Sanalla. He announced at a news conference that he would visit China by the end of March this year to discuss investment opportunities.