Libyan Oil Ports Seen Likely to Reopen by End of First Quarter

Ports in eastern Libya that are a conduit for oil exports may reopen by the end of March, according to researcher Eurasia Group.

“Significant progress” took place in the last few days in talks between the government and rebels who now control the ports, Riccardo Fabiani, a London-based analyst at Eurasia, said today in a research note.

The oil-export terminal at Es Sider, the country’s biggest, has been shut since July 28 along with Ras Lanuf, Hariga and Zueitina. Protests at Libyan oil facilities reduced crude production to 210,000 barrels a day last month, the lowest level since the 2011 rebellion and NATO bombing campaign that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule.

“The likelihood of a resumption of oil exports from east Libya by the end of the first quarter of 2014 remains high, despite the fact that the ports occupied by the federalist movement remain closed,” Fabiani said in the report. “Financial and political incentives of a deal are clear for both Prime Minister Ali Zaidan and federalist leader Ibrahim al Jedran, but each faces constraints.”

The rebel head is under increased pressure from tribal leaders to lift the five-month blockade that is stifling the eastern region financially and undermining support for the federalists’ agenda, according to Eurasia.

“Jedran needs to secure some degree of commitment on revenue sharing to appear as a winner and convince his rank-and-file to accept reopening the ports,” Fabiani said.

Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves, was producing an average of 1.55 million barrels a day in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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