Libya to Rebuild Army

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Libya to Rebuild Army
Released:  11/02/20142014-02-11
Word count:  511

Shahat — Libya's interim authorities say they are making efforts to bolster the military and build a professional army.

All Africa
The most important of these efforts are represented in sending batches of new conscripts, current soldiers and former fighters against Kadhafi's forces overseas to receive military training. "There are about 400 trainees in Turkey, and we'll send 400 more in the coming days to Italy," interim Prime Minister Ali Zidan said January 8th. "Turkey will take about 3,000 trainees, Britain will start with 400, to be raised to 2,000. We've also prepared 10 camps across the country to absorb those trainees." "There are currently 5,000 army trainees overseas, not to mention those recently sent to Italy, Turkey and Britain," he added. "They include officers and non-commissioned officers, sent to Pakistan, the Gulf, Morocco, Algeria, Italy, Germany, Britain, the United States and other world countries for training."

Libyan troops will also be sent to southern Europe to be trained by US troops as early as this summer. As many as 8,000 Libyan soldiers will take part in a 24-week training programme. The day after Zidan's statements, a batch of 400 officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers from an infantry battalion departed from Mitiga airport on their way to Italy to attend a training course lasting for three or four months as part of a programme to integrate former revolutionaries and rebuild the Libyan army.

Libyans, meanwhile, are urging Tripoli authorities to quickly bolster military forces in order to put an end to the relentless bombings and assassinations. "I have big questions about the slowness and failure to build the Libyan army, three years since liberation," political activist Nadia Jaaoda said.

"Events taking place now, including wars, conflicts, kidnappings and assassinations, indicate that there is no security, and show indifference and lack of desire to build the army," she told Magharebia. There is no hope "about building a state without first building the army", according to Jaaoda. "Building the army must not be arbitrary, but according to a clear plan and a comprehensive strategy, specifying the number of personnel in the army to be built, and determining whether it's going to be a defensive or offensive army," she continued.

She backed the idea of seeking international expertise, "to have a strategic ally that can help build the army". "We don't want our army to be just a soldier carrying a weapon and standing opposite a camp; rather, we want it to be a developed and educated soldier who can deal well with technology," the political activist concluded. Adel Elhasy is a former field commander of the Free Libyans Brigade. He disbanded the group following the GNC election in July 2012 and handed its weapons to the state. Now he recommends training those fighters in discipline, order and competency.

But according to Elhasy, groups with their own agendas, such as the "Libya Revolutionary Chamber", have impeded the building of an army. "All those are trying to form new entities under new names, such as the national guards, so they can have the deterrent military force in their hands," he told Magharebia.

These groups "won't accept a professional army with a correct doctrine, with army officers who joined the front and real revolutionaries forming its nucleus".
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News Releases
Released:  21/04/20152015-04-21
Word count:  149

A meeting of representatives of Libyan women groups and women activists facilitated by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), with the support of the European Union, will convene in Tunis, Tunisia, on 21-22 April 2015 in the framework of the political dialogue.

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The women’s track will include briefings by women participants in the dialogue tracks on the progress of the talks.

It will provide an opportunity for about 40 Libyan women coming from different parts of the country to review and comment on the draft document being discussed at the Libyan political dialogue meetings in Morocco to end the country’s political and military conflict.

The women will also have the opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges for Libyan women as well as their role in sustaining any future political agreement.

The meeting will take place at the hotel Carthage Thalasso in Gammarth in Tunis, on Tuesday 21 April 2015.

Media wishing to attend the opening session are kindly invited to be at the venue at 8:30 a.m. There will be other media-related events, including the closing session on Wednesday 22 April. For any enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Noor Tawil (tawiln@un.org)

+216 97 408 231
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  21/04/20152015-04-21
Word count:  304

(Reuters) - Oil prices dipped slightly on Tuesday but remained near a 2015 peak reached last week as expectations of another rise in U.S. stockpiles and near-record-high Saudi Arabian output were balanced by rising tension in the Middle East.

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Reuters
Crude prices have climbed around 18 percent since the start of April due to mounting concern over conflict in Yemen, with the U.S. navy saying on Monday it had sent an aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser into waters near the country.

Prices were also supported by speculation about falling U.S. output after the domestic oil rig count hit 2010 lows. Still, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories are forecast to have increased by 2.4 million barrels last week, rising for the 15th consecutive week, a preliminary Reuters survey showed.

Brent crude for June delivery LCOc1 was down 7 cents at $63.38 a barrel by 0349 GMT, after settling flat on Monday. U.S. crude for May delivery CLc1, which expires later in the day, was down 8 cents at $56.30 a barrel, after settling 64 cents higher.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said on Monday she would introduce legislation this year to allow U.S. crude exports, saying the Obama administration should not dare lift sanctions on Iran before scrapping the U.S. crude export ban.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told Reuters in Seoul that the No. 1 crude exporter expected to produce at near record highs of around 10 million bpd in April.

Analysts warn that OPEC's ability to cope with an unexpected surge in demand is diminishing fast.

"If the demand and non-OPEC supply responses to lower prices are similar to what was experienced in the 1980s, the very low level of spare capacity carries a risk of a price spike in the not too distant future," said analysts at PIRA Energy.

OPEC's spare capacity could halve to as low as 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, far below the level of more than 10 million bpd in the 1980s, when Saudi Arabia last opted for market share over price.

(Editing by Joseph Radford and Alan Raybould)
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  20/04/20152015-04-20
Word count:  177

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Two tankers will lift 1.3 million barrels of crude from east Libyan ports Hariga and Zueitina, oil officials said on Sunday.

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Reuters
The Hariga port was expecting a tanker to lift 700,000 barrels of crude on Monday, an oil official said. A second tanker would dock in the next few days at the Zueitina port to lift 600,000 barrels, another official said. A third tanker was currently docked at Hariga, located near the border to Egypt, to ship petrol for local consumption.

OPEC producer Libya has managed to boost output to almost 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) by reopening two western fields and keeping eastern ports open despite militant attacks and fighting between rival factions allied to two competing governments vying for control.

But the oil sector is facing uncertainty. The internationally-recognised government based in the east has unveiled plans to sell oil via a new state firm bypassing the established entity in the capital Tripoli.

Oil insiders say it will be difficult to lure buyers to change the payment systems because the new company would have to prove it owns the oil reserves. Contracts with existing buyers and geological maps are stored in Tripoli, out of control of the eastern government.

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Business News
Released:  17/04/20152015-04-17
Word count:  148

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni said his country is willing to resume a joint project with Moscow to build a railway between the cities of Sirte and Benghazi.

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MOSCOW (Spuntik) – Libya is set to resume a joint project with Russia to build a rail link connecting the cities of Sirte and Benghazi, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni told RIA Novosti during his visit to Moscow Thursday.

"The head of the transport committee met with his counterpart and they agreed to set up a commission to review the implementation of the railway project."

The $2.4-billion high-speed railway project was suspended amid political instability in 2011.

On April 14, Thinni told Sputnik that Libya plans to ask Russia to help rebuild its military, implementing a number of 2008-era contracts signed between the Gaddafi regime and Russia.

Long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011 after a months-long military standoff between government forces and the rebels, who received assistance from NATO forces.

After the conflict, the country has seen violent clashes between numerous militias, armed with weapons seized from government ammunition depots.
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  17/04/20152015-04-17
Word count:  121

BENGHAZI, Libya, April 16 (Reuters) - A tanker left Libya's eastern oil port of Hariga after lifting one million barrels of crude, an oil official said on Thursday.

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Reuters
No new tanker was expected in the next few days, said the official, asking not to be named. The terminal located in the eastern city of Tobruk had closed over the weekend due to poor weather.

OPEC producer Libya has managed to boost output to almost 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) by reopening two western fields and keeping eastern ports open despite militant attacks and fighting between rival factions allied to two competing governments vying for control.

But the oil sector is facing uncertainty. The internationally-recognised government based in the east has unveiled plans to sell oil via a new state firm bypassing the established entity in the capital Tripoli.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Potter)  
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News Releases
Released:  16/04/20152015-04-16
Word count:  83

Washington-based communications firm Qorvis/MSLGroup has won a $1.05-million contract to work for the Libyan Embassy in the United States.

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According to information released under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the company will provide public relations services to the Embassy, including “strategic advice and assistance on public relations issues to the Embassy of Libya … including relevant outreach to targeted members of the American public through appropriate publications and other media outlets.”

The one-year contract runs until 19th March 2016, and was signed by Michael Petrozello (pictured), President and National Director of MSL Group, and Wafa Bugaighis, Charge d’Affairs at the Libyan Embassy.
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  16/04/20152015-04-16
Word count:  279

OIL ADVANCED for a fifth day, the longest rising streak in three weeks, as Iran joined Libya in calling for OPEC to reduce production amid a global glut.

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Futures gained as much as 0.6 percent in New York. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should cut “at least 5 percent” from its collective target of 30 million barrels a day, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Tuesday. OPEC should curb output to accommodate a potential increase in Iran’s exports, Libya’s representative to the 12- member group said April 9.

Oil slid almost 50 percent last year after Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, led OPEC in resisting supply cuts as the pace of US production surged to the highest level in more than three decades. American crude stockpiles are forecast to have expanded further from a record last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before an Energy Information Administration report on Wednesday.

“It’s really which direction the Saudis want the organization to go that will be the key,” David Lennox, a resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, said by phone. “We need to see a good cut to production for prices to surge and the only entity that has the ability to do that in one hit is OPEC.”

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery climbed as much as 31 cents to $53.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $53.52 at 10:33 a.m. Sydney time. The contract rose $1.38 to $53.29 on Tuesday. The volume of all futures traded was about 52 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are up 0.5 percent this year.

Brent for May settlement, which expires on Wednesday, gained as much as 44 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $58.87 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It advanced 50 cents to $58.43 on Tuesday. The more active June contract was 26 cents higher at $60.07.  
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  15/04/20152015-04-15
Word count:  425

Iran became the second OPEC member this month to call on the group to reduce oil production ahead of its June meeting amid a global oversupply that’s cut crude prices by almost half.

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The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should trim “at least 5 percent” from its output target of 30 million barrels a day, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said at a news conference in Tehran Tuesday. Zanganeh’s comment, cited by the ministry’s news agency Shana, indicates Iran is seeking a minimum cut of 1.5 million million barrels a day.

His suggestion would exceed the decrease of 800,000 barrels a day sought by Samir Kamal, Libya’s representative to OPEC. Group members should curb output to accommodate a potential rise in Iran’s exports, he said April 9.

OPEC, led by its biggest member Saudi Arabia, decided in November to keep crude output unchanged to maintain market share in the face of a glut. The group’s 12 members are to meet again June 5, weeks before Iran and six world powers aim to reach an agreement limiting that country’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions. A deal may help Iran boost oil production and sales, exacerbating oversupply.

Brent crude, a global benchmark, has fallen 47 percent in the last 12 months as output rose from North America and Russia. Unleashing more Iranian oil on to markets may push crude prices lower by as much as $15 a barrel from 2016 forecasts, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. That would put Brent at about $60 a barrel next year, according to the EIA’s monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook released April 7.

Iranian Cargoes

It’s a mistake to fight for market share amid global oversupply instead of trimming crude output to prop up prices, Mohammed Al-Rumhy, oil minister of Oman, the largest Arab oil producer not in OPEC, said Monday. Al-Rumhy said he’d rather see a 5 to 10 percent output cut in the hope that prices will double than follow the current strategy, under which crude has dropped by half.

Iran has stored 20 million barrels of condensate, a light oil often found along with natural gas, on ships to be ready for sale when market conditions improve, Zanganeh said on state radio Tuesday. Iran plans to invest $20 billion over three years to boost its production capacity for crude by 700,000 barrels a day, he said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter, would welcome a shared effort by OPEC and producers outside the group to improve crude prices, the government said in a statement reported Monday by state-run Saudi Press Agency. The statement didn’t specify any possible course of action.

For non-OPEC producers, any suggestion of an output reduction without a cut by Saudi Arabia is a “non-starter,” Oman’s Al-Rumhy said.
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News Releases
Released:  14/04/20152015-04-14
Word count:  40

BENGHAZI, Libya, April 13 (Reuters) - Libya reopened the eastern oil port of Hariga on Monday after weather conditions improved, an oil official said.

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Two tankers entered the port after being delayed by bad weather, the official said.

One tanker was loading crude, the second was shipping petrol imports for local consumption.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by Jason Neely)
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News Releases
Released:  13/04/20152015-04-13
Word count:  293

Medavia is to seek a possible collaboration with Air Malta to operate routes on the Maltese national airline’s behalf.

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Times of Malta
This possible collaboration between Medavia and Air Malta had already been explored close to nine years ago without any success.

This attempt is part of a restructuring plan by CEO Ramah Ettir aimed at moving away from the focus Medavia has always had on Libya, instead expanding its reach to the whole of the Mediterranean basin. Mediterranean Aviation (Medavia) was set up in 1978 as a joint venture between the Maltese and Libyan governments. Its prime focus at the time was supporting the Libyan oil industry, which had oilfields in remote areas of the Sahara desert.

The company employs 260 people, 60 of whom are stationed at Tripoli International Airport in a secure enclave, although the building and hangar there have been almost completely ransacked. The company has kept these 60 people on its payroll, even though there is currently no work for them.

With a diverse fleet of aircraft, the company is not as competitive as Mr Ettir would like it to be. As a result, Medavia is embarking on a fleet renewal programme, and is talking to various suppliers, including Bombardier, Franco-Italian turboprop manufacturer ATR and regional jet manufacturers such as Italo-Russian consortium Superjet International and Brazilian manufacturer Embraer.

Medavia is also seeking to get a Libyan Aircraft Operating Certificate (AOC), something Mr Ettir believes will be accomplished by the end of this year. He acknowledged that getting traffic rights in Libya will be more difficult than ever before. In Libya there are 28 AOCs, although not all are active.

For the past three years, Medavia has always closed its books in the red, something that had never happened in its 36-year history. Mr Ettir is confident that the company should break-even this year and begin registering a small profit as from the coming financial year.  
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News Releases
Released:  10/04/20152015-04-10
Word count:  298

The Libyan-Maltese Chamber of Commerce has just held its Joint Council Meeting in Malta which was attended by its council members from Libya and Malta.

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Malta Independent
The Libyan Council Members have been officially appointed to sit on the council and this will provide a better impetus to the Chamber which will now receive first-hand information on the business opportunities between our two neighbourly countries.

The meeting was addressed by Mohammed Abdullah Al Sedeek, Director General of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture, Libya

Abdussalam Danaf, a Libyan businessman, has been appointed President of the Chamber for the next four year term. The Libyan - Maltese Chamber of Commerce was established in 1994 as a Joint Libyan-Maltese Council and as a Chamber of Commerce in 1997. It is an independent Chamber affiliated to the General Union of Libyan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

The chamber is a member-based organisation that endeavors to foster economic relations between Libya and Malta and vice-versa. This is done through the promotion of regional trade and investment between the two countries, through established contacts existing both in Libya and in Malta and especially with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, and the Ministry of Economy and Small Business and Malta Enterprise.

The Libyan-Maltese Chamber of Commerce works to enhance bilateral trade between Malta and Libya by creating the right environment for business networking and attracting Libyan investment to Malta whilst offering trade facilitation services to Maltese Companies doing business in Libya.

Various other services such as legalization of documents, translations and business advice are offered by the chamber from its offices in Balzan.

The current council is composed of:

Libyan side: Abdussalam Danaf, Mohammed Sweidan, Ezzedin Beleed, Salem Remalli and Mustafa Shembesh. Malta side: Hugh Arrigo, Tonio Casapinta, Frank V. Farrugia and Anthony Micallef.

Further information on the chamber is available on www.libyanmaltesechamber.org.mt
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  09/04/20152015-04-09
Word count:  313

LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) - OPEC should change course and cut oil supply by 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) or more to prevent an expected return of Iranian exports from weighing on prices, Libya's OPEC governor said.

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The comments underline how the halving of oil prices from $115 a barrel in June on global oversupply is hurting OPEC's less wealthy members outside the Gulf and suggests the 12-nation group remains divided over the impact of its 2014 policy shift to defend market share, not prices.

"OPEC members, as a unit, need to re-evaluate their strategies," Samir Kamal, Libya's OPEC governor and head of planning at the North African country's oil ministry, told Reuters by email.

They "need to reach an agreement to bring down the production levels by at least 800,000 barrels a day, especially now that an agreement has been reached with Iran which is expected to increase its production", he said.

A framework deal announced last week to curb Iran's nuclear work could eventually allow Tehran to boost oil exports, which have been cut by almost half since 2012 due to Western sanctions. Four years after the ousting of leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is struggling with two rival governments. Kamal represents Libya on OPEC's board of governors, a body that influences but does not decide OPEC policy.

When the producer group last met in November, Libya was among member countries calling for a cut in production.

OPEC meets again on June 5 to set policy. Although they did not oppose the group's no-cut decision of last year, other non-Gulf OPEC members such as Venezuela and Iran have expressed misgivings about it and sought supply reductions.

A group of 18 African oil producers - many of which are not OPEC members - is lobbying for output curbs to boost prices that it says have fallen to levels that threaten to spark social unrest.

But without support from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf OPEC members, a rethink is unlikely. Saudi Arabia has increased production to a record high and Kuwait has said OPEC will not change policy at the June meeting.

(Editing by Dale Hudson)
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  08/04/20152015-04-08
Word count:  31

The Abu Attifel oil field, which has been out of production since August 2013, may be about to resume operations soon, following the aparent resolution of labour disputes.

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Italy’s Eni stopped operations at the field after more than 1,000 demonstrators descended on the facility in late 2013 demanding jobs.

The field was last producing at a rate of around 70,000 bpd.
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  08/04/20152015-04-08
Word count:  264

Libyan oil production has edged up to 600,000 b/d, Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of state-owned NOC, told Platts Tuesday, up from the most recently reported level of 565,000 b/d.

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The country's oil production is now closing in on almost 50% of its total capacity of around 1.5 million b/d, with the rise coming despite the fact that its oil sector remains in disarray with the two rival governments looking to secure control over the industry.

Over the weekend, the crisis escalated as the officially recognized government based in Tobruk in the east of Libya issued a directive aimed at diverting oil revenues from the country's central bank to its own accounts.

Sanalla is based in Tripoli -- where an Islamist-led government claims control -- but he said earlier this month that NOC had no allegiance to either that regime or that of the Tobruk administration. The central bank also operates independently of any government.

NOC partners in all of Libya's oil and gas upstream ventures with international companies and manages exports and payments. But the Tobruk government has set up its own NOC to deal with eastern Libyan oil operations, although without any noticeable impact so far.

Despite the bitter rivalry between the two governments and the emergence of Islamic State fighters targeting oil infrastructure, Libyan production continues to rise and shipping sources have even suggested that confidence was returning with an increasing number of shipowners prepared to send vessels to the country.

There is also some optimism that two of the country's main export terminals -- Es Sider and Ras Lanuf -- could reopen in the coming days, which would enable fields that feed the ports to resume production.

--Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@platts.com --Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice.geller@platts.com  
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  07/04/20152015-04-07
Word count:  222

TRIPOLI, Libya, April 6 (UPI) -- Libyan media reports, an oil field shuttered since the middle of 2013, may be on the cusp of resuming operations after the resolution of labor disputes.

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UPI
The Libya Herald reported Sunday operations of the Abu Attifel oil field, last producing around 70,000 barrels of oil per day, may restart soon. The report said Italian energy company Eni stopped operations at the field "in August 2013 following the occupation and closure of oil export terminals by secessionist protestors."

More than 1,000 demonstrators descended on the facility in late 2013 demanding jobs.

"It is not yet clear what deal, if any, has been reached between the locals and the Libyan National Oil Co., which will allow Abu Attifel to restart production," the Herald reported.

Before NATO forces intervened in Libyan civil war in 2011, the country was producing more than 1 million bpd. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its latest market report said production from member-state Libya was around 300,000 bpd.

Libya has been unable to coordinate political efforts across the wide range of groups vying for more power since civil war ended. In late March, the U.N. Support Mission in Libya said it welcomed cease-fire agreements and the withdrawal of fighters from oil production areas.

"[UNSMIL] has urged the parties to the conflict to cease all military hostilities and focus instead on their common enemy, the terrorist groups which are determined to expand their areas of influence," the mission said.

The group calling itself the Islamic State has gained influence in war-torn Libya.  
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  07/04/20152015-04-07
Word count:  284

Libyan state firm Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) is producing 317,000 barrels per day (bpd), the highest level in the last two years, the company’s spokesman said on Monday.

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Al-Arabiya
Libya now produces around 600,000 barrels of crude per day, less than half the 1.6 million bpd it produced before the fall of strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Several oil ports and major fields have been closed by fighting but the two biggest ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider with a combined capacity of 600,000 bpd, may open soon, officials say. Gas production was over 2 billion cubic feet per day last week.

Crude revenues are at the heart of a battle for control of the North African OPEC producer that has pitted the two rival governments against each other in a growing conflict.

Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Sunday his government would run its own oil sales and deposit revenues abroad in a bid to divert proceeds away from a rival self-declared administration in Tripoli.

But the Tripoli-based National Oil Company (NOC) still handles all oil sales and revenues, and AGOCO - although located in eastern Libya - is an NOC subsidiary. NOC has tried to stay out of the conflict between the rival governments.

Ports and oilfields are also the favorite target of both militants loyal to the Islamic State group and local protesters with their own specific demands.

A source from the Brega oil point near Benghazi said on Monday that the port and Sirte Oil Company, located in the port area, have been closed by protesters over the past week.

“The port and Sirte company have been shut down since a week ago as all the promises made by the officials were not kept” one protester told Reuters.

Brega port is used mainly for crude shipments to the refinery in Zawiya, near Tripoli in the western part of the country.  
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  06/04/20152015-04-06
Word count:  393

(Reuters) - Oil futures climbed more than $1 a barrel on Monday, after Saudi Arabia raised prices for crude sales to Asia for a second month, signaling better demand in the region.

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International benchmark Brent regained ground after tumbling as much as 5 percent on Thursday, when a preliminary nuclear deal was finally reached between world powers and Iran. More Iranian oil could enter global markets if that is followed by a comprehensive deal by June.

But analysts warned a ramp-up in exports could take months and would likely not happen before 2016. "While clearly a bearish headline, a final deal and full lifting of sanctions still faces a number of obstacles," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

"Even if a final deal is reached, we do not expect any physical market impact before 2016," the analysts said. Brent crude for May delivery LCOc1 touched a high of $56.06 a barrel and was up 80 cents from Thursday at $55.75 by 1.10 a.m. EDT. U.S. crude for May delivery CLc1 was 92 cents higher at $50.06 a barrel, after earlier touching $50.35. There was no settlement in either Brent or U.S. crude futures on Friday as markets were closed for the start of the Easter holiday.

Despite the sanctions on Iran, China's imports from the OPEC producer are set to rise from August as a Chinese state trader has signed a deal with the National Iranian Oil Company to buy more condensate. The world's top exporter Saudi Arabia kept output steady and cut its official selling prices (OSPs) sharply late last year in a fight for market share during a global supply glut.

Its ability to raise prices for April and May suggests its strategy is working, although competition has kept its flagship Arab Light at a discount to Oman/Dubai quotes, analysts said.

"There is still competition for the Asia market even though it is also a sign that some of the production elsewhere is less able to compete in the market right now," said Shunling Yap, a senior oil and gas analyst at BMI Research. On the supply front, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States declined by 11 last week to 802, the smallest drop since December, a weekly survey by oil service firm Baker Hughes showed on Thursday.

Two weeks of small declines in the U.S. rig count have raised expectations that drilling activity is nearing a level that could dent output, bolster prices and coax rigs back to the field after a precipitous cull since October. (Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)
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Oil & Gas News
Released:  06/04/20152015-04-06
Word count:  400

The African Petroleum Producers Association, which represents oil and gas producers from Algeria to South Africa, called for a cut in oil output globally.

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Bloomberg
The group also includes the continent’s biggest producers, Nigeria and Angola. It’s starting an initiative, led by Angola and Algeria, to seek collaboration between members of OPEC and other oil producers to reduce output and stabilize oil prices, which have halved since the end of June.

APPA wants “to set up a platform of commitment at the international level from the producing countries,” said Ousmane Doukoure, director of exploration and production at Ivory Coast’s oil ministry, as he read out a statement on Friday at the end of an APPA meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital.

African countries from Angola to Nigeria to Equatorial Guinea have had to cut their budgets in recent months after the plunge in oil prices affected the amount of income they will get from their biggest exports. Countries, including the continent’s biggest economy Nigeria, have slashed growth forecasts.

“We are very concerned by the drop of the price,” said Gabriel Lima Obiang, oil minister for Equatorial Guinea, after the meeting. “We are revising already our budget because of the price and we have been welcoming an initiative by Angola and Algeria to study a way we can work together to stabilize the price in the future.”

’Drastic Reduction’

Of the African producers only Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and Angola are members of OPEC. While some members of OPEC have called for an output cut the biggest producer in the organization, Saudi Arabia, is opposing any reduction in output.

“The current prices are unfair and are having an impact on the economies of African countries,” Mashallah Zwai, oil minister for the Tripoli-based Islamist government in Libya, said through an interpreter. “We will ensure our voice is heard about this crisis so as to emerge from it as soon as possible.”

Zwai said Africa accounts for about 8 percent of global oil production.

Libya is split with a separate government, based in the eastern town of Tobruk, recognized by the United Nations.

“It has been a drastic reduction” in the oil price, Obiang said. “What we need to do is think of new initiatives, for example the diversification of our economies, so as we don’t depend on oil.”

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, relies on the commodity for over 90 percent of its export income. Brent crude oil traded at $54.95 a barrel on Thursday. Its lowest level since June was $46.59 on Jan. 13.
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  03/04/20152015-04-03
Word count:  530

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC oil production rose to a 19-month high in March, led by gains in Iraq and Libya.

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Production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries climbed 481,000 barrels to 31.029 million a day this month, the most since August 2013, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.

Prices have dropped 24 percent since OPEC left its production quotas unchanged at a November meeting. The group has chosen to preserve market share in the face of U.S. output that’s grown to the highest level in more than three decades.

“This is going to put more pressure on OPEC,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by phone. “It’s not helpful to see production up so much, especially when U.S. output has yet to drop.” Brent for May settlement fell $1.18, or 2.1 percent, to $55.11 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil, touched $45.19 on Jan. 13, the lowest since March 2009, and dropped 12 percent this month.

Last month’s OPEC total was revised 20,000 barrels lower to 30.548 million a day because of changes to the Saudi and Libyan estimates.

Iraqi production rose 295,000 barrels a day to 3.745 million this month, according to the survey. Output climbed as improved weather allowed for increased crude loadings from the Basra Oil Terminal in the Persian Gulf.

Libyan Unrest

Libyan output climbed 230,000 barrels a day to 480,000, the highest level since November. Production has been erratic since the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule. The country pumped 1.585 million in January 2011. Iranian production rose 70,000 barrels a day to 2.85 million this month, leaving output at the highest level in a year. The nation pumped more than 3.1 million barrels a day from 1991 until July 2012, when additional sanctions were imposed on the Islamic republic. Iran, the group’s second-biggest producer in June 2012, is now tied with Kuwait for third place. Negotiators from Iran and a group of six powers -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. -- are closing in on an agreement detailing the main steps needed to resolve a 12-year standoff over the nation’s nuclear program, giving themselves three months to overcome remaining differences.

Iran may be hoarding 7 million to 35 million barrels onshore and in tankers in the Persian Gulf, shipbrokers and government officials estimated, which Barclays Plc and Societe Generale SA predict would be sold abroad first should a nuclear pact be reached.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top producer, trimmed output by 30,000 barrels a day to 9.77 million. Demand for Saudi crude has fallen outside of the kingdom as refineries undergo maintenance programs. Production wasn’t down sharply because domestic refineries are running at historic high level of 2 million barrels a day.

Nigeria’s production slipped 90,000 barrels a day to 1.9 million in March, the lowest level since November 2013. The West African country posted the biggest decline in the survey. Nigerian output is volatile because of unrest and theft in the Niger River delta, the main oil-producing region.

OPEC ministers are scheduled to convene June 5 in Vienna.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net Bill Banker, Richard Stubbe
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