Libya's oil output hits 760,000 bpd, highest since 2014: NOC

FILE PHOTO: Pipelines are seen at the industrial zone at the oil port of Brega, Libya, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s oil production has risen above 760,000 barrels per day (bpd), its highest since December 2014, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Monday.

Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement the NOC was working on plans to increase production further. He has previously set a goal of boosting output to 1.1 million bpd by August.

The NOC gave no breakdown for the latest production increase, but it is mainly due to the reopening of the major western field of Sharara last week.

Sharara was producing more than 200,000 bpd before its operations were halted by pipeline blockades twice in the past two months, causing national output to drop to less than 500,000 bpd.

The NOC said on Thursday that the lifting of the blockade at Sharara would also allow production to resume at the nearby El Feel field, which can pump 80,000 bpd.

The news of the restarts contributed to a dip in global oil prices. Libya along with Nigeria was exempted from a recent agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to limit output.

Libya’s production remains well below the 1.6 million bpd the North African country was producing before a 2011 uprising, but gains to production remain vulnerable to political turmoil and armed conflict.

Production has been repeatedly disrupted in recent years by stoppages and port blockades usually linked to demands for salary payments or funds for local development. Closures since 2013 have deprived Libya of more than $130 billion in revenue, according to the NOC.

Some oil facilities have been badly damaged by previous fighting, and the NOC also faces major technical and financial challenges in returning them toward full capacity.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Susan Thomas and Mark Potter