Libya Output May Over 600,000 B/D by Year End - Oil Head

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), Oct. 10, 2011

Libya is now producing 400,000 barrels of oil a day, a quarter of its prewar level, a figure that may rise above 600,000 barrels by year end, the country's oil chief said Monday, as the war-torn nation boosts output faster than expected.

In an interview, Nuri Berruien, chairman of the country's National Oil Company, said "we expect more than 600,000 barrels a day...hopefully" by year end.

Libya shut off most of its output after civil war erupted in February, lending upward pressure to oil prices. It only restarted significant production mid-September following the fall of Moammar Gadhafi the previous month.

Only two weeks ago, Mustafa Sanala, a deputy to Berruien, said the NOC could ramp up to 350,000 barrels a day by the end of October, though he added it could be more.

But Libya has boosted production faster than planned to 400,000 barrels a day, following a ramp up at fields from state-owned Arabian Gulf Oil Co. and a joint-venture with Italy's Eni.

Some of the upcoming increase will come from the resumption of the giant Sharara field, which largest foreign partner is Spain's Repsol.

Berruien confirmed he expects the resumption of production at the field by the end of October, starting at a level of close to 100,000 barrels a day. Production at field was over 300,000 barrels a day before the war.

Following Gadhafi's fall, new oil companies have been salivating at the prospect of entering Libya, which holds the largest oil reserves in Africa.

As an example, U.K. independent oil and gas explorer Heritage Oil last week said it was buying a 51% controlling stake in Libyan private company Sahara Oil Services Holdings Ltd. for $19.5 million.

But Berruin said the country's openness wouldn't mean a free-for-all. "It's the new Libya, no-one can push hard," he said.

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