Libya is seeking to boost its oil production by a third to two million barrels a day by year-end, surpassing last year's pre-conflict level, Libyan ambassador to Washington Ali Aujali says. How fast Libya returns to pre-war levels or surpasses them "depends also on the oil companies, how fast they are returning" to restart or expand operations, Aujali said, speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington on Wednesday. Beyond oil, Libya is eager for American investment in tourism, health care and education, he said.
The nation, whose governance is still in flux, plans to hold the first election for the national assembly next month after four decades of rule by dictator Moammar Gadhafi. "The environment is great" for US companies, in large part because the Obama administration is credited by Libyans with pressing for NATO military action that helped topple Gadhafi last year, Aujali said. "They appreciate what the Americans did," he said, and American flags are often flown alongside Libyan ones around the country.
Libya's governor for OPEC, Samir Kamal, set expectations lower than Aujali did, telling reporters last week in Vienna that the government hopes to reach 1.6 million barrels a day by year-end. Aujali said the North African nation has restored crude oil production to more than 1.5 million barrels a day, or 90 percent of official production figures before Gadhafi was ousted in a violent uprising.
The months-long conflict sent production levels plummeting to 45,000 barrels a day in August, according to a monthly Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Libyan production was restored to 1.45 million to 1.55 million barrels daily by the end of May, according to figures from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Oil Minister Abdul-Rahman Ben Yezza said last week that Libya plans to spend about $10 billion to develop long-term oil and natural gas projects and increase its crude production capacity. He said the country also has a five-year plan to increase production to about 2.2 million barrels a day. Aujali said "we need more investment" to develop the oil industry and fulfill a longer-term goal of restoring Libya's crude production capacity to its historical high. The Department of Energy estimates it exceeded three million barrels a day in the 1960s.
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