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Libya self-reports March crude output of 1.28 million b/d to OPEC

Highlights

Production averaged 1.21 million b/d in Q1 2021

March output was near an eight-year high, according to Platts survey

State-owned NOC looking to produce 1.45 mil b/d by end-2021

London — Libya pumped 1.283 million b/d of crude in March, the North African producer revealed to OPEC in the producer group's latest monthly oil market report.

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Crude production in March rose by 100,000 b/d compared to 1.183 million in February, the report released on April 13, showed. Production in the first quarter of 2021 and January averaged 1.214 million b/d and 1.172 million b/d, respectively.

This is the first time that Libya has officially reported a monthly production figure to OPEC since March 2015. OPEC voluntary requests its members to self-report a crude output figure every month. At present, sanctions-hit Iran is the only country that does not self-report monthly production figures to the OPEC secretariat.

The country's interim Government of Unity (GNU) was sworn in on March 15, creating a new oil and gas ministry.

Production recovery

Libya's production recovery has gathered pace in the past six months, bolstered by the formation of the GNU, ending years of a civil conflict between the Government of National Accord and the self-styled Libyan National Army.

Libya has been long exempt from OPEC's output cuts as its oil sector has been wrecked by civil war, militant unrest and terrorist attacks for the past decade.

But it may be subject to an OPEC+ quota, as officials from the alliance have said they are likely to ask the country to submit to one when its production stabilizes at pre-war levels.

State-owned National Oil Corp. is planning to pump 1.45 million b/d by the end of 2021, as some eastern oil fields resume production.

Libya pumped 1.19 million b/d in March, its highest since June 2013, according to the monthly S&P Global Platts OPEC Survey.

S&P Global Platts Analytics recently raised its Libyan oil supply forecast from 1.10 million b/d in March to September to 1.20 million b/d on "lower risk of blockades."

It now expects increased stability for Libya's oil sector in the near term due to the new interim government.

"But volatility from mercenaries and various militia groups on the ground will persist," it said in a recent note. "With risk more likely into Q4 2021 with scheduled Dec. 24 elections."

Libya holds Africa's largest proven reserves of oil and its main light sweet Sharara and Es Sider export crudes yield a large amount of middle distillates and gasoline, making it popular with refineries in Europe and China.