Politics & Economics

The Battle to Control Oil Ports in Libya

North Africa

The clashes between the different factions in Libya has decreased Libya's oil production and oil revenue immensely. The main ports of the Libyan Oil Crescent are controlled by the LNA while the GNA control two ports.

The Libyan oil industry has been majorly disrupted due to recent clashes between the Libyan National Army (LNA) headed by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and militias in Ras Lanuf and Sidra, two of the main ports within the Oil Crescent in Libya. The Libyan National Oil Corporations (NOC) has announced that the clashes resulted in the loss of $650 million in addition to infrastructural damage which dropped the ports’ storage capacities from 950,000 to 550,000 barrels per day.

Upon securing Ras Lanuf and Sidra, the LNA controlled all five of the main oil ports in the Libyan Oil Crescent: Sidra, Ras Lanuf, El-Barigha, El-Harika, and Zouitina. These ports make up a total of 60% of Libya’s oil production and export which averaged approximately 780,000 barrels per day at the end of May.

The Government of National Accord (GNA), the force recognized by the United Nations Security Council as the interim Libyan Government and headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, controls the Mellitah and Zawia Oil ports west of the country. Due to the recent clashes between the two forces, these ports have also been damaged severely.

The NOC recently announced that the production of oil would be halted in the Zouitina, Wahha, Gulf, Tobruk and Wintershall oil fields and refineries due to the hazardous damages that these locations are facing.

The damages to these ports have immensely dropped Libya’s oil production, which has dramatically reduced the nation’s GDP. In 2008 it was estimated that Libya exported over 1.7 million barrels of oil per day resulting in a GDP of over $87 billion. By 2017, OPEC and the World Bank estimate that the country was able to produce about 817,300 barrels per day, estimating to about $50.98 billion in GDP, almost a 41% drop in 9 years. The decline in Libyan oil production began mainly after the revolution in 2011 which brought down the Gaddafi regime which ruled the oil-producing country for 42 years.