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Libya to Reach Full Oil Output in Third Quarter of 2012

Libya’s Oil Minister Abdul-Rahman Ben Yezza
Libya’s oil minister Abdul-Rahman Ben Yezza. Photographer: Vladimir Weiss/Bloomberg

Libya’s crude output will return to its pre-conflict level in the third quarter of next year after current production reached 1 million barrels a day, the country’s oil minister said.

The North African nation is seeking to raise its production to 2 million barrels a day in three to five years, Abdul-Rahman Ben Yezza said today in Vienna, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met.

The holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves was able to restore its production at a faster-than-expected pace on an increase in Benghazi-based Arabian Gulf Oil Co.’s output, which is at almost 300,000 barrels a day compared with its normal rate of about 400,000 barrels, Ben Yezza said.

Libya’s refineries are running at about 40 percent of capacity, and the country’s biggest plant at Ras Lanuf is expected to start operations in a month and a half, he said. The nation was pumping 1.59 million barrels of crude a day before a rebellion against then-leader Muammar Qaddafi disrupted production and exports.

“There is some mine-cleaning in Brega and other places,” Ben Yezza said, referring to the oil hub in eastern Libya that witnessed fierce battles between Qaddafi’s forces and the opposition. “There is some damage and of course we are repairing it at the moment.”

Libya is currently swapping some crude exports for fuel imports besides normal sales for cash as it still has assets frozen, Ben Yezza said.

Asked if $100 is the right price for crude, Ben Yezza, who’s representing Libya for the first time at the meeting, said: “Yes, I think so.” Brent crude for January delivery fell $1.97 to $107.53 a barrel at 2:05 p.m. London time on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

“As long as the economy stabilizes, it’s a win-win situation for both, that’s the right price for us,” he said.

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