Oil Blockades Cost Libya $130 Billion, Finance Minister Says

The frequent oil blockades in Libya over the past few years have cost the country a total of US$130 billion in lost revenues, Finance Minister Faraj Boumtari told Al-Jazeera on Thursday.

Libya’s oil industry has been plagued by on-and-off blockades as rival factions have been fighting for control over areas in Libya and its oil terminals and ports since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The most recent blockade in Libya, between January and the middle of September, has cost Libya almost US$10 billion, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said, describing it as “a devastating loss most especially during this period of national crisis.”

The head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, whose troops, with help from affiliated groups, had blockaded Libya’s oil ports in January, announced the end of the blockade on September 18.

NOC started to gradually lift force majeure on some of the oil terminals and oilfields, and Libya’s crude oil production has increased over the past month from below 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) before the blockade was lifted to as much as 500,000 bpd last week.

Earlier this month, NOC announced that it had lifted the force majeure on the largest Libyan oilfield, Sharara, which has the capacity to produce more than 300,000 bpd. As of last week, Sharara was pumping around 100,000 bpd and has further increased output to some 150,000 bpd early this week, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The return of Libyan oil to the market has weighed on oil prices in recent weeks, and even the OPEC+ group is closely monitoring the supply increase from the country. Libya is exempted from the production cuts and could derail the alliance’s efforts to prop up oil prices and the plans to have the ongoing cuts eased by another 2 million bpd as of January.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com