Protest Pains Could Hinder Libyan Energy Recovery
By Christopher Coats
In the nearly 16 months since the end of the civil war that officially concluded with the death of Muammar Gadaffi after four decades in power, Libya’s oil and gas production has made an unexpected return to form. Realizing that the country’s reserves, which were largely paralyzed by the unrest, provided the surest path to economic and political stability, Libya’s new government worked quickly to appeal to foreign firms to return and production to resume.
While certain challenges arose with threats of greater scrutiny for those who had worked with Gadaffi, production quickly moved towards pre-conflict levels and promised a route to levels not seen since before international sanctions halted expansion decades ago. By finally tapping into Africa’s largest proven reserve of crude, Libya saw the surest path to ensuring the funds necessary to support the difficult political and economic transitions ahead.
However, as the recovery moved towards a pre-conflict level of 1.6 million barrels per day, progress began to slow in late summer and early fall as the country’s unique challenges began to become clear.
Insufficient or outdated infrastructure hindered the energy sector’s ability to keep pace and more dramatically, activist groups began to realize the power of targeting the country’s vital energy facilities. Representing an array of concerns, protest groups have spent the last twelve months occupying or striking at Libya’s energy facilities in hopes of capturing the attention of a government still finding its own footing.
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