Agoco to restart two refineries by late September

Libya’s state-owned Arabian Gulf Oil Co (Agoco) said it will resume operations at its two refineries by late September, coinciding with the start-up of production at the Sariri and Mesla oil fields.

“When we have the production, we can restart them. It will be end of September or slightly before,” said an Agoco spokesman, who also said the firm plans to start output from the two eastern fields on Sept. 15.

“The technicians have left already to the fields,” said the spokesman. The two refineries, which are in the Sarir field and at the export terminal of Tobruk, have a combined capacity of 30,000 b/d.

The announcement coincided with a report made by the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corp. that the country’s oil production will not return to prewar levels until late next year at the earliest.

Many of the country’s oil facilities are reported to have suffered heavy damage and looting during the recent conflict between rebels and forces loyal to Libya’s leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Nuri Berruien, the newly appointed NOC chairman, said it would be late 2012 or early 2013 before the country was again producing the 1.6 million b/d it had prior to the uprising against Gadhafi.

While some production from the country’s eastern fields should begin this month, Berruien said that the initial oil output will be measured in the tens of thousands of barrels per day rather than in the hundreds of thousands.

In what he called an optimistic forecast, Berruien said Libya can reach the prewar level of 1.6 million b/d in 15 months as damage has affected only support infrastructure and not the main production facilities.

He said the main concern is focused on the country’s export terminals, with Brega badly damaged by pro-Gaddafi forces and by bombs of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Also badly damaged, Berruien said, was Es Sider where the control room was totally destroyed, along with three storage tanks.

Analyst IHS Global Insight said that Berouin's assessment is “significantly less optimistic than some of his superiors in the Transitional National Council, which is setting up a post-conflict government in Libya, although no doubt more realistic.”

Last month, Libya’s rebel government estimated that the country’s initial oil exports could resume in 2-3 weeks, with full production coming in a year or so.

Ali Tarhouni, the rebel official in charge of financial and oil matters, said the estimate of NOC is that about 500,000-600,000 b/d can be online in 2-3 weeks.

Tarhouni, who expressed the expectation that the country can ramp up to full production of 1.6 million b/d within a year or so, said damage on most of Libya’s oilfields from the civil war has been minimal.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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