WoodMac: Libya’s oil production might have reached near-term potential

Wood Mackenzie Ltd. analysts believe Libya’s oil production might have reached near-term limits with only gradual future growth. The possibility of longer-term political normalization and a reduction in the nation’s political conflicts depends on Libya maintaining oil production.

Wood Mackenzie Ltd. analysts believe Libya’s oil production might have reached near-term limits with only gradual future growth. The possibility of longer-term political normalization and a reduction in the nation’s political conflicts depends on Libya maintaining oil production.

Libya’s oil production increased steeply to the current level of 850,000 b/d from a low point in August 2016 of below 300,000 b/d. Production surpassed 1 million b/d in July.

WoodMac said export capacity remains constrained by damage to the key ports of As Sidrah and Ras Lanuf, limiting production to a maximum of 1.25 million b/d, which Libya’s National Oil Corp. has announced as its yearend target.

“Reaching this would be quite an achievement, given ongoing challenges, including international oil companies’ reluctance to recommit capital and expertise, a national oil company starved of funding—and, not least, the propensity for violence to flare up and armed groups to hinder oil output,” WoodMac said in an Oct. 20 note.

American and Canadian oil companies continue to view Libya with trepidation, and some may seek to mitigate exposure there, analysts said. But many European companies consider the risks manageable and envision a gradual reentry into projects.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries exempted Libya from production-cut targets, which WoodMac calls “a tacit acknowledgement of the upside limitations to the country’s production recovery. We expect that it will be well into next decade before production is restored to prewar levels.”

WoodMac believes Libya would be successful if it maintains stable production of 1 million b/d, adding that incremental interim gains might help avert a deepening of the country’s conflicts.

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