The world’s attention is fully focused on Ukraine following Russia’s military assault on the country.
The international community as a whole is concerned but when it comes to European countries, they have a deeper apprehension because of the potential energy crisis they face in the short and long term.
In response to Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk) and its subsequent order of a military operation, Germany announced the halting of the 1,230 kilometre, $11 billion Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project which was completed in September but awaited certification.
Last week, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, also warned that Europe should accelerate its transition to sustainable energy sources, as a path towards independence from their reliance on Russian gas.
Russia is one of the largest suppliers of natural gas to Europe which provides some 40 percent of the continent’s supplies.
Amid the tensions, Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Unity’s Prime Minister, Abdulhamid Dbeibah, said his country can become a major gas exporter following the exploration of new fields.
Stressing Libya’s capacity in terms of its large energy stock, he said there is an opportunity for cooperation with foreign countries to face “international challenges by exploring their natural resources”.
“The instability in Libya had a large impact on oil and gas production,” he added.
On Thursday, following Dbeibah’s speech, the embassies of the US alongside four European countries (France, Germany, Italy and the UK), urged all actors in Libya to “respect the unity, integrity, independence and preserve the apolitical, technical nature of the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), whose continued, uninterrupted operations benefit all Libyans.”
In a written statement published by the US embassy in Libya, the statement read; “We appreciate NOC’s commitment to improve financial transparency and we caution against acts that undermine the NOC, in line with multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, 2571 (2021), 2441 (2018), 2259 (2015), and 2146 (2014), and underscore the need to avoid such actions that may pose a threat to the peace, security and stability of Libya.”
So is Libya a feasible option for Europe?
The north African country has the largest oil reserves on the continent and the ninth largest known reserves in the globe. Proven oil reserves of the country stands at 48.3 billion barrels.
According to experts, the extraction cost of gas and oil in Libya is more favourable compared to other countries in the region.
Libya’s current daily oil production is 1.2 million barrels but the exact amount supplied to the black market is not known as warlord Khalifa Haftar has control over several facilities and is allegedly selling it illegally allowing him to generate $450-500 million per month.
The state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya recently announced that with the opening of a new oilfield, Tahara, the field will be able to produce 14,000 barrels of oil per day.
It was also stated that the field might have the capacity to increase output to 40,000 barrels per day with additional wells in the future.
Libya also has 53 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves according to numbers in 2021 which already place the country at 21 in the hierarchy of proven reserves on earth. However, the country ranked 40th when it came to production.
The country’s proven reserves are equivalent to almost 340 times of its annual consumption which means Libya still has 340 years of gas left based on current consumption levels (It should be noted that these figures are based on proven reserves).
The previous datas showed that Libya exports more than 40 percent of its gas production.
According to the NOC, the opening of Tahara oilfield will also pave the way for Libya to increase its natural gas production to 6 million cubic feet per day.