Libyan oil production tops 1.2 million bpd, as sector makes fast recovery

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Libyan oil production has now reached 1.215 million barrels per day (bpd), a Libyan oil source told Reuters on Friday, as the OPEC member’s oil industry recovers faster than expected.

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The North African country’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on November 7 that production had reached 1.04 million bpd.

Libya’s oil output has been rising steadily since the gradual lifting of an eight-month blockade by eastern forces in September. On October 26, NOC ended force majeure on the last facilities closed by the blockade.

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Earlier this week, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said output could reach 1.3 million bpd within a month.

It could be a challenge for Libya to produce significantly more than 1.3 million bpd because repeated shutdowns since a civil war erupted in 2011 and limited investment in infrastructure has curtailed its production capacity.

Prior to 2011, Libya was producing about 1.6 million bpd.

The speedy recovery in production, which slumped to just 100,000 bpd in early September, has surprised analysts and it presents a challenge to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, a group know as OPEC+.

They are due to hold a ministerial committee meeting on November 17 which could recommend changes to production quotas when all the ministers meet on November 30 and December 1.

At the moment, OPEC+ is due to reduce existing cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by about 2 million bpd in January.

But the group is considering extending the current cuts by three or six months, or even deepening them.

The rise in Libyan output and the prospect of weaker demand during ongoing lockdowns to stem record increases in COVID-19 cases are forcing the group to reconsider its policy.

“Production has staged a remarkable comeback ... rebounding twice as fast as our expectations and prior recoveries in 2014/2016,” Goldman Sachs said.

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