Editorial: Libya - Staging Ground For The Fall Of Giants

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Tim Haïdar

On the same day as Saif al-Islam, the son of deposed Libyan dictator, Muammar al-Gaddafi, was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli, supermajor BP also announced a Libyan-centred tale of woe.

The largest holder of oil reserves on the African continent and the tenth largest in the world, Libya’s oil production peaked in 1969, the year Gaddafi and a coterie of army officers dethroned King Idris I in a coup d’êtat.

At more than three million barrels per day (bpd), Libya was an oil superpower of the day - a reign that, like that of Idris, would be cut short. Production would be halved in the coming decade and never reach such heights again as international sanctions and political isolation hit home.

In the aftermath of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, instability and unrest would see domestic production rates plummet to lows of barely 200,000 bpd in 2014, approximately the same output as Denmark.

The power vacuum left by the downfall of the Gaddafi clan has cost the lives of some 4,000 combatants and civilians, as four rival factions vie for control of the desert state.

BP, already crippled by the punitive damages meted out in the Deepwater Horizon court case, called force majeure on its Libyan interests after the major export terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were closed due to persistent fighting. Today, the petrogiant would announce $600 million of write-downs which saw second-quarter profit slumps by nearly two thirds year-on-year.

As Western powers loudly mull over re-intervention of a military flavour in the riven African republic, Libya prepares - maybe in vain - for an October election. A country that exports 85 per cent of its hydrocarbons and derives 75 per cent of government revenue, and more than 50 per cent of GDP from the black stuff, will be hoping to stem the flowing crimson tide....

Tim Haðdar is the Editor In Chief at Oil & Gas IQ. Reach Him At Twitter Or OGIQ


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