Libya’s crude oil production has increased by more than 70 percent since August, to 450,000 barrels per day, as several oil fields resumed output and the port of Ras Lanuf reopened for the first time since 2014. In an email interview, Matthew Reed, the vice president of Foreign Reports, Inc., a Washington-based consulting firm focused on Middle East politics and world oil markets, discusses Libya’s oil industry.
WPR: What is the state of Libya’s oil industry and its infrastructure?
Matthew Reed: Libya’s oil sector is making a tenuous comeback. Production jumped to 450,000 barrels per day following the reopening of Gulf of Sirte terminals that were recently captured by the strongman Khalifa Haftar. Today, countrywide capacity—not production—is probably close to 1 million barrels per day, whereas prewar capacity was about 1.5 million barrels per day. Capacity would be greater if not for the so-called Islamic State. In 2015, the group attacked a cluster of fields in the Sirte Basin, systematically destroying vital equipment; and in early 2016, the Islamic State destroyed most of the storage tanks at the Es-Sider and Ras Lanuf terminals. Lacking proper storage, the fields that supply those terminals can’t raise production, even if the fields are in good shape.