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Toxic Mix of Oil and Politics Threatens Libya’s Cohesion

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was removed Tuesday after failing to stop a tanker from sailing away with an illicit shipment of Libyan oil. The event underscores the crucial role of the oil industry in the country’s current political instability, while further eroding initially optimistic expectations about Libya’s transition and the return to health of its oil industry.

Not so long ago, the political and economic prospects for Libya looked brighter. The toppling of the Gadhafi regime in 2011 set the country on the path of a democratic transition. The oil sector, which is the backbone of the Libyan economy, recovered much more quickly from Libya’s eight-month revolution than most industry analysts had expected. After having come to a virtual standstill in mid-2011, production levels were restored to 1.5 million barrels per day in April 2012, or only slightly below prewar levels. Last year, the International Monetary Fund projected Libya’s GDP would grow by 25.5 percent in 2014. ...

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