Published 11 May 2016
It is clear to most that a prolongation of the current Libyan internal security situation is undermining the welfare and interests of the Libyan people and, potentially, the territorial integrity of Libya itself. Given, also, the regional context and Libya’s strategic location in relation to Europe and the rest of the African continent, the Libyan security vacuum must be addressed urgently. Otherwise the potential for Libya’s existing fragile governmental structure to deteriorate into a failed state or to balkanize, and the resulting knock on effect of this on its neighbors, is becoming stronger day by day.
Production of crude oil in Libya began in 1961 and by the end of the decade the country had become the fourth largest producer in OPEC, with a share of world output in 1970 of 7.5 percent. Libya’s prosperity and the welfare of its people have been heavily dependent on the production and export of oil and gas. At its production zenith in 1970, Libya was pumping 3.7 million bbl of oil per day. Currently production (April 2016) is around 400,000 bbl per day.
Putting political and ideological standpoints aside, Libyans and their families had, prior to the events of 2011, enjoyed a level of education and prosperity almost unparalleled in the Arab world. That prosperity was largely based on a functional oil industry and Libya’s oil exports.
Today, the devastating range of difficulties confronting the average Libyan citizen, including unemployment, food shortages, lack of public health and educational institutions, rising inflation, depreciation of the Libyan dinar, intermittency of utilities, non-existent public transport, and fuel shortages mean that a normal life is now impossible.
Regardless of the nature or form of a future stable Libyan political system, it is therefore self-evident that the oil and gas industry must be restored, and quickly. Fortunately much of the industry’s equipment and infrastructure is still intact.
Footnotes omitted from this introduction.
This paper will be part of the OGEL Special on "Energy Law and Policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)".