Libyan oil production could 'halt' altogether

National Oil Corporation's Ghanem says production is below 400,000 bpd

Libyan production has reduced drastically due to fighting between pro and anti-Gaddafi forces and now fresh air strikes by a Western coalition.
Libyan production has reduced drastically due to fighting between pro and anti-Gaddafi forces and now fresh air strikes by a Western coalition.
Seen through night-vision lenses, a guided missile destroyer fires a Tomahawk cruise missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn off the Libyan coast
Seen through night-vision lenses, a guided missile destroyer fires a Tomahawk cruise missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn off the Libyan coast

Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp’s chairman has said that the country’s oil production has fallen to below 400,000 bpd from the pre-conflict 1.6 million bpd level, after foreign oil companies which carry out most of the drilling and exploration activity, pulled out their staff as aerial bombardment against pro-Gaddafi forces commences, according to Bloomberg.

Shokri Ghanem was speaking in a televised media conference in Tripoli where he said that Libya would honour its commitments with foreign oil companies.

"It's not our intention to violate any of these agreements," he told reporters in Tripoli.

His comments may be falling on deaf ears as a European-led air force coalition is targeting strategic pro-Gaddafi anti-aircraft defence sites as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn. Official Libyan government reports say that 48 people have so far died on the ground with 150 wounded in the allied assault.

Ghanem called on foreign oil companies to return their employees to Libya to resume work and warned that production “could reach a halt”.

On Friday, Italian operator Eni announced that it ended the repatriation of all its employees, however it said that gas production for the domestic market is continuing.

Libya is said to be weighing up alternative production options in order to raise output by awarding oil and gas concessions directly to Chinese, Indian and Brazilian companies, companies in countries it sees as allies.

Earlier in the month Libya’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi denounced Western oil companies but singled out Germany as the only Western power that had a chance of doing business with Libya in the future.

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