Libya, having seen its output flounder at low levels of around 200,000 b/d in recent months, is now seeing production rise again after a series of agreements with the various tribes and factions that have occupied fields and facilities and blockaded ports for more than a year. Production is now around the 600,000 b/d level.
But, despite the government’s insistence that the crisis is now “over,” Libya is unlikely to see a return to the 1.4 million b/d of early last year any time soon. Indeed, even as the National Oil Corporation was reporting the rising levels of crude output, the United Nations said it was evacuating its remaining staff because of the worsening security situation in the country.
Another big question mark lies over Iran, whose interim nuclear deal with six world powers will expire in just a few days’ time July 20. A comprehensive deal by Sunday now looks beyond reach, so the interim agreement is likely to be extended, which will mean that Iranian crude exports won’t rise to anywhere close to pre-sanctions levels this year. Nevertheless, given the seismic events that are taking place in neighboring Iraq and, as a consequence, the potential for Iran’s star to rise in both the regional and international political firmament, a deal can’t be ruled out entirely in the next few weeks.
Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters in Vienna that Iranian crude exports were currently running at 1.5 million b/d and that this volume could be boosted immediately by 500,000 b/d if a nuclear deal were struck and sanctions lifted. He said Tehran could achieve a total export boost of 700,000 b/d two months after the lifting of sanctions.
Crude imports are not quite the same as crude exports – voyage times vary and oil exported in one month may not reach its destination until the following one. Still, the total export figure given by Zanganeh is not far from the kind of crude import numbers showing up in official and trade data.
In May, for example, Iran’s top four Asian buyers – China, India, Japan and South Korea – collectively imported 1.356 million b/d. Add about 100,000 b/d for Turkey, which has yet to release figures for May, and the May total import figure rises to 1.456 million b/d – rather a lot more than the 1 million b/d level US officials said they expected to see over the duration of the six-month interim agreement despite the pausing of pressure on these countries to reduce volumes from Iran.