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By Ayman al-Warfalli
BENGHAZI, Libya, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Libya aims to more than double its oil production to 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2021 provided security and stability are strengthened in the conflict-stricken country, the chairman of state oil company NOC said on Sunday in Benghazi.
Currently, Libya produces 953,000 bpd, less than its pre-civil war capacity of 1.6 million bpd, Mustafa Sanalla said at a news conference.
He reiterated calls for workers’ security to be improved to allow production to resume at the 315,000 bpd El Sharara oil field, which was taken over on Dec. 8 by tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments and development funds.
Production is expected to be up to 11,000 bpd lower when it restarts after the seizure due to looting, NOC said last week.
“What happened in Sharara discourages foreign companies,” said Sanalla, who announced a visit to China in the first quarter of this year to discuss oil investment opportunities.
He also confirmed the upcoming return of BP to Libya along with Russian companies, without giving further details.
Improved security conditions in the Sirte Basin in central Libya will enable the launch of production at the Farigh gas field at 24 million cubic feet per day in three months, with an eventual output goal of 270 million cubic feet per day, Sanalla said.
Despite security problems, NOC expects full-year revenue to surge by 76 percent to $24.2 billion in 2018. (Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Alison Williams and Jan Harvey)