EXCLUSIVE: 'Libya flows at 1m b/d within five months'

05 September 2011

NOC chief Berouin sets output targets

Derek Brower, LONDON: Libyan oil production will come on stream within the next two weeks and reach 1 million barrels a day (b/d) within five to six months, the head of the country’s National Oil Company (NOC) told Petroleum Economist today.

Nuri Berouin said production from the Sarir and Misla oilfields, in Libya’s southeast, would be first on stream and exports, through a pipeline to the Marsa el Hariga port, next to Tobruk, would begin “seven to 10 days later”.

The area around the oilfields was now secure, he said, adding that Arabian Gulf Oil (Agoco), the NOC unit that operates the fields, had already flown workers to the installations and would be sending more this week.

Work to restore the fields had been “100% Libyan”, he said, quashing rumours that foreign oil companies had been involved in operations to secure the area and patch up infrastructure damaged by attacks on facilities by Muammar Qadhafi’s forces early in the war.

Security issues

“We are going to handle security ourselves,” he said.

Other fields close to Sarir and Misla are also nearing production, said Berouin, and their oil would be exported through an oil terminal at Zueitina, close to Ajdabiya on Libya’s coastal highway. He said oil infrastructure at Ras Lanuf, another terminal, was fine now, adding that offshore production is also imminent.

Taken together, work under way now to restore production should yield output of 1 million b/d within five or six months, Berouin said.

NOC is also working to restore natural gas production. Berouin said exports through the Greenstream pipeline, which has capacity to ship 11 billion cubic metres a year to Sicily, would begin “before the end of October”. Paolo Scaroni, boss of Italy’s Eni, which operates the line, said last month exports through the line could start by 15 October.

The company’s workers are also trying to restore gas flows at Brega, he said. Brega exported small quantities of liquefied natural gas to Spain before the war, but is also a hub for gas shipments between east and west Libya. Attacks from Qadhafi forces during the war cut those flows.

Contracts not on the agenda

Meanwhile, Berouin said the National Transitional Council (NTC) would not sign any contracts or hold a new licensing round. Both would wait until a new government had replaced the interim council, he said.

Reports in recent days have alleged agreements between the NTC and foreign oil companies.

Berouin said he met with Italy’s Eni, France’s Total and Spain’s Repsol – but discussions were only around how the companies could help to restore Libya’s pre-war output levels of 1.6 million b/d.

“We were discussing ways of them coming back,” he said. “We agreed the way forward, and everyone is keen and geared to start production.”

All three companies held upstream contracts in Libya signed with the Qadhafi regime.

Berouin also said he was working now to integrate the shadow NOC set up by rebels in Benghazi with the pre-war company, based in Tripoli.

“We need to plan for the structure of NOC,” he said. “We can run it fine,” he said, adding that communications with [NOC] officials in Tripoli had gone well.

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