Libya’s oil output has plunged by at least a fifth as foreign companies have shut down production, running the risk of turning the political crisis in the Middle East into an oil crisis.
Oil prices surged on Tuesday after Eni of Italy and Repsol YPF of Spain, the largest oil producers in Libya, said they were shutting down output. Traders said two of the four oil ports in the country were also closed, and refineries have also been affected.
In a sign of the deepening crisis, Ali Naimi, Saudi oil minister, said the Opec oil cartel stood ready to boost production to offset any loss from Libya. However, Mr Naimi reiterated that for the time being the oil market was well supplied.
“I don’t know if anybody right now knows what is happening in Libya,“ said Mr Naimi in Riyadh. “Whatever is happening in Libya, the disruption to oil markets has not happened. When we see a shortage in supply, we will rectify immediately.“
Saudi Arabia retains about 4m barrels a day of spare production capacity, which the kingdom could use to offset losses in Libya. Mr Naimi stressed that Riyadh had the ability to remedy any shortage of supply.
“We have done this so many times, responding to emerging crises,“ Mr Naimi said, in reference to Saudi Arabia’s move to pump more oil during the first Gulf war in 1990-91, during the oil strike in Venezuela in late 2002, and in 2003 during the US invasion of Iraq. “We have enough credence to tell you that we will meet any shortage.“ The International Energy Agency also controls large emergency stocks of oil, which could be released into the market to meet any shortage.
Oil prices pared some gains after Mr Naimi reassured the market, but Brent crude, the global benchmark, continued close to its highest level in two and a half years at $107 a barrel.
Repsol YPF said on Tuesday it had shut down the massive El Sharara oilfield, with around 250,000 barrels a day of production. Repsol operates the field but its share of production is just 35,000 b/d. The bulk of the rest will affect Libya’s state-owned National Oil Company. Germany’s Basf shut down a 100,000 b/d of production in Libya on Monday.
雷普索尔YPF周二表示，它已关闭了日产量约25万桶的沙拉拉(El Sharara)大型油田。雷普索尔负责沙拉拉油田的运营，但该油田每日出产的石油中，只有3.5万桶归它所有。余下的大块份额归利比亚国有的国家石油公司(National Oil Company)所有，后者将因此事受到严重冲击。德国巴斯夫(Basf)则于周一停止了它在利比亚每日10万桶的生产。
Eni also confirmed it has shut down “certain“ oil and gas operations, without providing any more details. It said in a statement its installations had not suffered any damage.
The shutdowns bring the total volume lost so far to at least 350,000 b/d, or about 22 per cent of Libya’s production and equal to Greece’s demand. Executives said the losses could be higher if the undisclosed shutdowns from Eni were included. Libya pumped nearly 1.6m b/d last month, the IEA said.
Oil executives said shutdowns were set to increase, potentially bringing Libya’s oil sector to a complete halt, as the subcontractors needed to run the fields leave. “There is huge and unexpected political uncertainty in most parts of north Africa and the Middle East and this can be expected to support prices,“ Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, the world’s largest oil trading house, said.
业内高管表示，随着运营油田所必需的分包商纷纷撤离该国，肯定还会出现更多的停产，有可能导致利比亚的石油产业完全陷于停顿。全球最大石油贸易公司维多 (Vitol)的首席执行官伊恩?泰勒(Ian Taylor)说：“北非和中东大部分地区存在巨大且意想不到的政治不确定性，这有望对油价形成支撑。“
“Further price rises can be possible,“ he said at an industry event in London.