Libyan oilfields “’
production down from
1.6 million to
320,000 barrels a day
Dubai, United Arab Emirates — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 04 April 2011 – Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach has halted operations in Libya, Kuwait’s KUNA news agency reports, citing the country’s energy minister.

Youcef Yousfi revealed that Sonatrach’s operations had stopped completely amid the fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, KUNA reported. Sonatrach does not produce oil or gas in Libya but operates several exploration blocks.

Oil output in OPEC-member Libya has fallen sharply due to the shutdown fields operated by foreign companies. A Reuters survey estimated that Libya produced 320,000 barrels per day of crude in March, down from 1.6 million before the crisis erupted.

Sonatrach operates three natural gas-focused exploration blocks and discovered oil at another block in the Ghadames Basin in 2009.

Yousfi told KUNA that the current crisis in Libya had not affected oil demand so far. He added that prices still remained at an "acceptable" level, and there was no oil supply shortage.

Oil prices jumped on Friday as supportive U.S. jobs data reinforced economic growth expectations, and Libya’s conflict and Middle East unrest kept supply threats in focus, pushing both Brent and U.S. crude to their highest settlements since 2008.

Brent crude for May delivery rose US$1.34 to settle at US$118.70 a barrel, the highest close since August 2008 and up US$3.11 for the week. It hit a contract high of US$119.14 in post-settlement trading.