Libya currently produces around 224,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, almost half of which is used to feed its Zawiya refinery, leaving exports at around 130,000 bpd, the country’s deputy oil minister said on Monday.
A mix of militias, tribesmen and political minorities demanding a greater share of Libya’s oil wealth and more political power have shut most oilfields and ports, cutting oil output from 1.4 million bpd in July.
Libya is in turmoil, with the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan struggling to control dozens of former militias that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi two years ago but have refused to give up their arms.
Production has gone up from 172,000 bpd two weeks ago when protesters from the Amazigh minority demanding more political rights ended a strike at the western Mellitah port, Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters.
Mellitah, located west of the capital Tripoli, is co-owned by Italy’s Eni and state National Oil Corp (NOC).
But protesters demanding more autonomy for their eastern region are still blocking four key ports, keeping exports well below the OPEC producer’s usual output.
Exports remain at around 130,000 bpd as NOC is diverting oil from Brega port in the east to feed the 120,000-bpd Zawiya refinery, which supplies Tripoli with gasoline, he said.
“There is no export … operation from Brega,” he said, showing the latest production figure sheets prepared for Zeidan.
Zawiya, the country’s second-largest refinery, used to be fed by the southern El Sharara field, which another set of protesters closed in October.
The deputy minister said the OPEC producer had lost more than 8 billion Libyan dinars ($6.5 billion) in oil revenues since strikes at oilfields and ports escalated in summer.
Libya also had to step up imports of petroleum products to meet domestic demand, he said, without giving a figure.
Asked whether the government would be able to end the blockage and reach a settlement with the strikers, he said: “Hopefully soon.”