Libya’s energy dominance is highlighted by its position as the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves and the third-largest gas reserves on the continent. Fossil fuels, particularly petroleum and natural gas, drive 95% of export earnings, contribute to 65% of GDP, and account for around 80% of government revenue. But Libya’s potential extends beyond these conventional sources; the country’s abundant sunlight, especially along its southeastern border with Chad, holds the key to a burgeoning renewable energy sector.
In this article, we delve deeper into Libya’s existing energy infrastructure and untapped reserves, offering a glimpse into the strategic opportunities awaiting those keen on investing in this energy-rich nation.
Reason 1: Vast Energy Reserves & Renewables:
Libya has long been a significant player in the global oil market. In 2021, it stood as the seventh-largest crude oil producer within OPEC and the third-largest producer of total petroleum liquids in Africa, following Nigeria and Algeria. At the close of 2021, Libya held an impressive 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves and a staggering 39% of Africa’s proved oil reserves.
Oil revenues play a vital role in Libya’s economy, accounting for an estimated 98% of government revenues in 2021. Moreover, Libya’s oil and natural gas exports contributed significantly to the country’s total export value in 2020, making it a key driver of economic growth.
The most prized asset within Libya’s energy portfolio lies in its confirmed oil reserves, standing at a substantial 48 billion barrels, representing 39% of Africa’s total reserves. In fact, Libya ranks among the top 10 countries globally for proved oil reserves. Notably, about 93% of Libya’s recoverable reserves are located in the onshore Sirte Basin in the northeast and Murzuq Basin in the southwest, which also account for the majority of the country’s oil production capacity. Remarkably, most of Libya’s vast land remains unexplored, presenting significant untapped potential.
Looking ahead, Libya’s national oil company (NOC) aims to ramp up oil production to 2.1 million barrels per day by 2025. To achieve this ambitious target, NOC plans to develop new projects, rehabilitate fields damaged during past conflicts, and enhance power supply to the fields.
But Libya’s potential isn’t limited to fossil fuels alone. The country is gearing up to harness its abundant solar potential, aiming to produce 22% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. With its vast solar and wind potential, Libya has attracted foreign investors, including TotalEnergies, which plans to develop 500 MW of solar power projects in the country. International organisations and foreign governments, such as the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme, are also supporting Libya’s renewable energy ambitions.
Reason 2: Revival of Oil Production
Libya’s oil industry has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years, offering compelling opportunities for investments in exploration, production, and associated services. Market trends indicate a steady increase in oil production, with figures climbing impressively from January 2002 to July 2023. During this period, Libya’s daily oil production reached an impressive 1,183,000 barrels per day.
In a significant and timely development, Libya’s El Sharara oilfield, one of the largest and most significant deposits in the country, resumed production in July 2023. This announcement marks a pivotal moment in Libya’s oil sector as the El Sharara oilfield gradually increases its output back to pre-shutdown levels. Industry experts anticipate daily production levels to range between 250,000 and 260,000 barrels per day, a significant contribution to global oil markets.
The increased production capacity opens doors for exploration, development, and the provision of associated services within the oil industry.
Reason 3: Exploration Development
The government of Libya has opened new exploration blocks, including Block 4, Block 82, and Block 106. Seismic acquisition in 2023, led by WesternGeco, has provided crucial data for these blocks. Notably, Block 4 and 82, situated in the prolific Ghadames Basin, encompass approximately 10,000 and 5,000 square kilometres, respectively. Block 106, located in the significant Sirte Basin, spans approximately 7,000 square kilometres. These exploration opportunities extend further, with additional blocks in the Ghadames, Sirte, and Murzuk Basins under consideration. Seismic data is aiding oil and gas companies in identifying new drilling targets, both onshore and offshore in the Mediterranean Sea.
Reason 4: Supportive Regulatory Reforms
Libya offers an inviting environment for expansion, trade, and investment, with full tax and customs exemptions for foreign investors. Recent regulatory reforms, including Decree No. 944, allow 100% foreign ownership in the oil and gas sector. Tax incentives, such as a five-year tax holiday and a 10% corporate tax rate, enhance the appeal of investing in Libya. Licensing procedures for oil and gas exploration and production have been simplified, including the establishment of a streamlined one-stop shop for investment approvals. Enhanced visa and work permit procedures are in place for foreign investors and their employees, alongside a new arbitration law providing a transparent framework for resolving investment disputes.
Reason 5: Strategic Partnerships and Joint Ventures
Libya is actively pursuing strategic partnerships and joint ventures with prominent global energy corporations to bolster its energy sector. Among these significant collaborations, one noteworthy partnership involves the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in the Waha oil field. Additionally, Libya has forged successful alliances with Italian oil giant Eni, particularly in the Mellitah complex, and with the esteemed French energy company Total in the Nafoora oil field.
Expanding on these partnerships, Libya’s state-owned integrated oil and gas company, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), has recently announced a strategic collaboration with the renowned consulting firm, EY. This collaboration signifies Libya’s commitment to leveraging the expertise of foreign consulting groups as it embarks on a comprehensive gas development strategy. The NOC’s objective is to substantially increase Libya’s oil production to an impressive 2 million barrels per year within a timeframe of three to five years, aligning perfectly with the country’s overarching national development goals.
European companies have assumed a prominent role as major international oil companies (IOCs) operating within Libya’s energy sector, with Italy’s Eni emerging as the most significant foreign investor. Eni’s active involvement in Libya’s energy landscape is evidenced by its substantial gas production, which amounted to an impressive 198 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2021. This gas is transported to Italy through the extensive 520-kilometer (323-mile) Green Stream pipeline, which possesses a remarkable annual capacity of 8 billion cubic meters (Bcm).
In a notable development earlier this year, Eni and the NOC solidified their commitment to Libya’s energy future by signing an agreement to collaborate on the offshore Structures A&E project. This venture is anticipated to yield a substantial production capacity of 750 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas, tapping into estimated reserves totaling 6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).
+1 Bonus Reason – Infrastructure:
Libya is making substantial investments in expanding its oil and gas infrastructure. Notably, there are several ongoing tenders, including the construction of a 400-kilometre-long oil pipeline, the expansion of the Zawiya refinery’s capacity, and the operation of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Mellitah. These projects offer promising investment opportunities and contribute to Libya’s commitment to advancing its energy sector.
In conclusion, Libya’s energy sector presents compelling opportunities for investors. With vast reserves of oil and gas, a burgeoning renewable energy sector, and ongoing infrastructure development, this energy-rich nation is poised for growth.
As Libya welcomes strategic partnerships and joint ventures with global energy corporations, it’s an opportune moment to consider investing in this dynamic and promising sector. For more information and to explore these opportunities further, we invite you to visit the website of The 5th Libya Energy Summit, co-hosted by the Libyan National Oil Corporation.