(Reuters) – A comeback by Libya’s oil industry may be short-lived as a confrontation between armed groups risks splitting the country three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Oil production has risen to 650,000 barrels per day (bpd), five times the level two months ago, in a rare success for the economy at a time when armed groups and two parliaments fight for control of the North African country.
Outgoing Oil Minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters output could rise to 1 million bpd later this year, bringing it close to the 1.4 million bpd Libya pumped until a wave of protests crippled the industry in July 2013.
Such a development would be a crucial boost for Libya’s stricken economy, with the central bank forced to use up foreign currency reserves to keep the country running. Yet any targets are subject to factional and tribal conflicts that risk spiraling into civil war.
The recent increase comes after a group of federalist rebels campaigning for regional autonomy implemented a deal to reopen major eastern ports such as Es Sider.
But Libya expert Dirk Vandewalle said federalist rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran might close these ports again, after a rival armed faction from the western city of Misrata took control of the capital Tripoli…