LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices have risen this week as the wave of political protest and violence, which has swept across the Middle East and North Africa, has engulfed oil producer Libya. Foreign oil companies are reassessing operations in the country and some oil fields are reporting disruptions.
The following lists key facts regarding Libya’s oil industry:
PRODUCTION OPEC member Libya produces 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. It is the 17th-largest producer in the world, the third-largest producer in Africa and holds the continent’s largest crude oil reserves. At least some 100,000 barrels per day, around 6 percent of Libya’s production, have been shut in as a result of the unrest.
Libya’s oil industry is run by the state-owned National Oil Corporation, which is responsible for implementing exploration and production sharing agreements with international oil companies. Along with smaller subsidiary companies, the NOC accounts for around 50 percent of the country’s oil output.
Major international oil companies operating in Libya include Eni, StatoilHydro, Occidental Petroleum, OMV, ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp, Marathon, Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Wintershall, a subsidiary of chemical company BASF.
Libya is a net exporter of oil. Its domestic consumption is estimated at only around 270,000 barrels a day.
Over 85 percent of its crude exports go to Europe, while around 13 percent goes east of the Suez Canal to Asia. Around 32 percent of Libyan oil goes to Italy, 14 percent to Germany, 10 percent to China and France and 5 percent to the United States.
Trade and Italian government sources said on Tuesday oil flows from Libyan ports were disrupted by a lack of communications.
Libya exports various grades of light crude from six major terminals, five of which are located in the eastern part of the country, where protests erupted near the second city of Benghazi.
The eastern terminals of Es Sider, Marsa el Brega, Ras Lanuf, Tobruk and Zuetina exported on average 825,000 barrels of crude per day in the last four months. The western port of Zaiwa, near the capital Tripoli, exported an average of 251,000 barrels a day over the same period.
Most of Libya’s oil fields are located in and around the Sirte Basin, which contains around 80 percent of the country’s proven reserves. Oil had reportedly stopped flowing at the Nafoora oilfield in the Sirte basin, according to Al Jazeera, although few details were available.
Other key areas include the Ghadames Basin and Cyrenaica Basin. Oil production from the isolated Murzuq oil field in the desert in the south of the country continues as normal, a spokesman for Spanish operator Repsol said on Monday.
The country has five domestic refineries with a combined capacity of 378,000 barrels a day. They are the Azzawiya Oil Refining Co., Sarir Refining, Sirte Oil Co., Tobruk Refining and Ras Lanuf Oil & Gas Processing Co.
Anti-government protests have broken out in the central town of Ras Lanuf, near the site of the 220,000 bpd oil refinery and petrochemical complex, Libya’s Quryna newspaper said on its website on Monday.
While Libya itself does not produce enough oil to significantly disrupt world supplies, concern has grown that political unrest could continue to spread, specifically to Saudi Arabia. The Gulf state supplies around 10 percent of the world’s oil and also holds most of the world’s spare capacity at around 3-4 million barrels a day. It is the only producer able to respond quickly with large volumes of oil to compensate for a serious outage.
Reporting by Nia Williams, editing by Jane Baird