Europe eyes on the Libyan gas… it might be a miracle solution

In a recent report, the French L’Orient-Le Jour newspaper considered that Libyan natural gas may represent a “miraculous solution” for Europeans who are facing a serious shortage of supplies due to the Russian war in Ukraine.

The report indicated that Western capitals are closely monitoring the field situation in Libya, and understand the meaning of the strategic repositioning of what they described as “Russian mercenaries” in Libya and the consolidation of their position there, since the start of the war in Ukraine.

The L’Orient-Le Jour newspaper stressed that the West is seeking to invest these field developments in its favor in the face of the looming energy crisis, meaning pressure to expel mercenaries in exchange for energy supplies.

According to the report, the oil and gas fields, refineries and ports in Tripoli, Cyrenaica and Fezzan in Libya could change the rules of the game.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Brussels and its allies have sought at any cost to diversify sources of energy supply and reduce their dependence on Russian oil, natural gas and coal.

And while the leaders of the 27 European Union countries agreed at the end of last May to reduce Russian oil imports by more than 90% by the end of 2022, Libya could be a “miracle solution,” according to the newspaper.

The L’Orient-Le Jour newspaper pointed out that the Libyan industry is famous for its quality, low-cost and largely untapped production, and benefits from its proximity to European markets.

Libya’s oil and gas reserves are estimated at 48 billion barrels and 53 trillion cubic feet, respectively, making it the largest reservoir in Africa and the third largest producer on the continent after Niger and Algeria, and as such, the country is considered an “energy giant” with unexplored potential.

The report cautioned that despite the availability of these characteristics that make Libya on paper an ideal candidate for the West to compensate for the lack of energy, the security dilemma and political instability represent an obstacle to the development of the oil and gas industry and make this country an unreliable partner.

In addition to the volatile security environment, Libya’s oil industry has for several years been hostage to political turmoil.

The report quoted Ihab Abdel Moneim, a director of a Libyan company operating in the oil and gas sector in Tripoli, as saying: “The process was eminently political, but officially the demands of the local communities involved in closing the sites were clear: a change in the leadership of the National Oil Corporation along with the reinstatement of the NOC’s leadership… A fairer distribution of oil revenues.

In this regard, we shouldn’t forget the cases of closing production sites that Libya witnessed over a period of weeks, between last May and June, which led to a decrease in national production from 1.3 million barrels per day to 400,000 barrels.

In conclusion, the L’Orient-Le Jour considered that the crisis of oil and gas production in Libya is only a reflection of the latest symptoms of a political crisis that began at the end of 2021 with the cancellation of the (legislative and presidential) elections that were scheduled to take place on December 24 last.

A few months later, the formation of two competing governments raised the specter of partition, making it difficult to negotiate with the European party over energy supplies.

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