Thanks to the ceasefire signed in October 2020, oil production recovered spectacularly in Libya, reaching 1.2 million barrels per day in December. It has thus been multiplied by ten in a few weeks, a sign of a certain back to normal. However, we are still far from the production of the time of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, when it exceeded one and a half million barrels a day. At the time, black gold was the absolute manna on which almost the entire Libyan economy was based and the power of its leader.
But this recovery remains fragile, already threatened by the wear and tear of equipment, little or not maintained after a decade of civil war. Suddenly, exports fell by 200,000 barrels following the closure of an oil pipeline that suffered from major leaks.“What happened at WAHA is happening every day in other companies suffering from budget cuts, specifies in a press release the National Oil Company which brings together the players in the sector.They all risk having to reduce their production, or even stop it altogether. “
Production also remains under threat from armed groups who attack oil installations and blackmail the attack.“It is a miracle that the oil sector continues to function despite dilapidated infrastructure damaged by war, neglect or sabotage”, explained to AFP Al-Mahdi Omar, a Libyan petroleum engineer.
Finally, this restart of the oil economy is above all linked to a change in political strategy. It was Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strong man of eastern Libya, who had used it as a means of pressure.
A year ago, the pro-Haftar blocked production and exports from the country’s most important fields and terminals in an attempt to demand a more equitable distribution of revenues, managed by Tripoli. The failure of its military offensive against the power of Tripoli changed its plans. But nothing says that in the near future this hard-hitting policy will not come back up to date.
The revival of Libyan oil is therefore totally linked to the painfully unfolding peace negotiations. under the aegis of the UN. Step by step, the two camps are working to reestablish national unity. On November 9, 2020, the UN envoy to Libya, Stéphanie Williams, announced that the protagonists had reached an agreement: “The participants in the Dialogue Forum agreed on the organization of national elections on December 24, 2021.”
But there is still a long time for a turnaround of one or the other to occur. The question of the presence of foreign forces on Libyan soil is already a stumbling block. No camp seems to want to thank its support, Turkish for the GNA (Al-Sarraj), Russian for the ALN (Haftar).
The Libyan people, for their part, benefit very little from the oil upturn. If in Tripoli the guns fell silent, in the capital as in Benghazi in the East, the population must now suffer a vertiginous increase in the price of bread! The increase is around 25% for a food that remains essential.
The threat of revolt is taken very seriously, especially as bakers have lowered the curtain for a moment, faced with the rise in the price of flour linked to its shortage on the market. If Libya has oil again, it has no more flour.