Libya’s Crude Output Hits a New High Just as Oil Prices Rebound

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By Salma El Wardany

Libya’s oil production has climbed to more than 1 million barrels a day for the first time in four years just as oil prices capped the longest run of gains in six months after U.S. shale explorers paused a record drilling expansion.

Output is 1.005 million barrels a day, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. That would be the highest since June 2013, when Libya pumped 1.13 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil futures advanced for an eighth consecutive session on Monday, after shale explorers broke the longest stretch of uninterrupted growth in three decades. West Texas Intermediate prices have still dropped 14 percent this year as rising supply from OPEC members Libya and Nigeria along with the U.S. is offsetting cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners.

WTI crude, the U.S. benchmark, was trading up 0.3 percent at $46.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 12:41 p.m. Singapore time. Brent, the marker for more than half the world’s oil, was 0.2 percent higher at $48.85 a barrel in London.

Libya’a oil output has rebounded from only 690,000 barrels a day at the start of the year, with Sharara, the country’s largest oil field, resuming production last month. State National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in April he wanted to boost national output to 1.1 million barrels a day by August.

Political Risks

Still, production will probably fall short of government targets for the third quarter, given “ongoing political risks,” Jan Edelmann, commodities analyst at HSH Nordbank AG in Hamburg, said Sunday by email. Libya’s output is seen rising 300,000 barrels a day on average for the third quarter compared with the first quarter, he said.

Sharara closed on June 7 for two days due to a protest by workers over a colleague’s death at the field, halting about 270,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Libya, with Africa’s biggest crude reserves, was pumping about 1.6 million barrels a day before a political uprising in 2011.

Other fields have reopened, most recently the Abu Attifel deposit which resumed production last month and is now pumping about 81,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the person who gave the latest production figure. The Majid oil field restarted on July 1, with output at 4,500 barrels a day. Sharara has been also steady at 270,000 barrels a day, the person said.

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