Libya Halts Oil Exports Due to Bad Weather

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On Wednesday, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced that bad weather conditions are disrupting the country’s oil exports.

It added that the country’s production of crude might decrease, if these conditions last. “We don’t have enough tanks to accommodate two days of production at the Zawiya oil port, and we are afraid that production will decline if bad weather continues for more than three days,” the NOC said.

Notably, the Corporation has demanded the government provide funding for the maintenance of critical oil sector infrastructure, storage tanks, and for equipment destroyed during the various conflicts. The lack of available funding has led to the oscillation of production, and fields halting production due to leaks and other issues. This has greatly affected the country’s hard currency earnings.

The National Meteorological Center warned of strong winds along the coast, extending from Al-Khums to the east of the country. These are expected to have a speed of between 25 and 30 knots, and waves exceeding 4 to 5 meters.

Earlier today, the ‘Matala’ crude oil tanker docked in eastern Libya’s Hariga oil port, to begin loading one million barrels of oil to Britain.

Last month, the NOC announced that the country’s revenues of oil and gas exports reached more than $21.5 billion in 2021, the highest level in five years.

It added that the record levels were achieved in November and December, raising a combined $4.3 billion in the two last months of 2021.

“The end of the year 2021 recorded a recovery, and oil prices achieved their largest annual gains since 2016, driven by the recovery of the global economy from the state of stagnation due to the coronavirus epidemic,” NOC Chairman, Mustafa Sanalla said.

Since the 1970s, Libya, which sits on the largest known oil reserves in Africa, has been heavily dependent on revenues from its hydrocarbon exports.

However, in the decade of violence since the 2011 revolt that overthrew and killed long-time leader Muammer Gaddafi, armed groups have frequently blockaded or damaged oil installations. The shutdowns have forced the NOC to declare force majeure, a legal move allowing it to free itself from contractual obligations in light of factors beyond its control.

Oil production has recovered to 1.2 million barrels per day, a week after militias ended a three-week blockade of several fields, including the nation’s largest. Prior to the closures, Libya’s oil sector was experiencing a period of calm. Production rose above one million bpd in late 2020, and averaged around 1.2 million in 2021.