Energy Capital & Power

Recapping Libya’s Upstream Revival in 2023

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Libya’s oil and gas industry has seen several milestones in 2023, advancing the country’s pursuit to stabilize and expand its energy sector. Oil production in Libya averaged 1.12 million barrels per day (bpd) at the start of this year, while latest production figures exceed 1.2 million bpd, falling in line with national efforts to supply two million bpd by 2030.

As part of efforts to stimulate new exploration, Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced plans to prepare a licensing round for local private upstream firms, which could facilitate the establishment of joint ventures. The licensing round will take place in 2024 and will include services and production sharing contracts for fields in the Sirte, Murzuq and Ghadames Basins.

Austrian multinational OMV and Algeria’s state-owned oil company, Sonatrach, both announced last November the resumption of oil operations in Libya following the suspension of activities due to security concerns. OMV will resume exploration in the Sirte Basin, while Sonatrach formalized the reestablishment of its contractual commitments in the Ghadames Basin.

Poised to advance exploration and production in the North African producer’s offshore acreage, Norway’s Equinor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NOC last October to study and evaluate untapped resources in Libya’s maritime territory. Equinor holds interests in Libya’s Mabruk field and is a partner in the resource-rich Murzuq Basin.

 Kicking off exploration activities, NOC subsidiary Waha Oil Company announced the start of drilling operations at the T1-31 exploratory well earlier this month, in partnership with TotalEnergies and ConocoPhillips. Spanish multinational Repsol is set to begin exploratory drilling activities in the contract area of the Murzuq Basin in early-April 2024.  

The NOC has also invited Turkish companies – including upstream company, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı – to participate in on- and offshore projects in Libya. Potential partnerships, including joint ventures and access to seismic research vessels and drillships available in Turkey, will support exploration of Libya’s offshore acreage, which remains underexplored.

The El Sharara and El Feel oil fields – situated in the Murzuq Basin, the former being the largest oil field in Libya – resumed production last July following shutdowns due to political disruptions. The oilfields represent one of Libya’s largest deposits and are gradually increasing production back to pre-shutdown levels of between 250,000 and 260,000 bpd.

Meanwhile, the NOC, alongside vertically integrated oil and gas company, Tatneft, successfully drilled a well in Area 04/82 in the country’s onshore Ghadames Basin last May. Drilled to a total depth of 8,500 feet and representing the third discovery in the concession area, the well is estimated to yield a flow rate of 1,870 bpd. Furthermore, preliminary estimates for an offshore field discovery in Libya’s Gulf of Sidra made last March could double the country’s estimated oil and gas reserves.

In addition to oil, Libya boasts 53 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas resources. Condensate production reached 52,000 bpd this year, while domestic natural gas consumption increased to 1.9 billion cubic feet. Last August, Italian oilfield services provider, Saipem, was awarded a $1-billion contract to develop Libya’s offshore Bouri natural gas field. With a stated commitment to becoming a significant exporter of natural gas to Europe, Libya has sought to double its gas production. As such, the NOC is currently in talks with Italian oil and gas supermajor, Eni, to develop the onshore Al-Hamada gas field in western Libya.

From the launch of new licensing rounds to the resumption of its most prolific fields, Libya’s 2023 upstream milestones are poised to revitalize the industry, with the NOC demonstrating a commitment to attracting new investments, increasing production and driving long-term growth of the sector.

The Libya Energy & Economic Summit, taking place on January 13-14, 2024 in Tripoli, will explore the country’s latest upstream developments. Under the theme, A New Libya: Built on Energy, the second edition of the summit unites energy companies, capital and technology providers, and global investors. For further details on how you can participate, please visit


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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.