A dearth of investment in Libya’s oil sector, as well as heavy borrowing by the state from local banks, is sharply undercutting the OPEC member’s ability to revive production critical to the economy, the United Nations envoy to the country said.
The warning by Ghassan Salame hangs over tortuous efforts by the North African nation’s two rival leaders to reach a power-sharing agreement that could mark a breakthrough in ending a ruinous eight-year war that began with the ouster of Moammar Qaddafi.
Libya needs to “reinvest quickly in oil fields because some of the oil fields are being depleted,” Salame said in an interview late Saturday. “With the new technology that is needed you can do marvels, and nothing is being done on this level.” State-run National Oil Corp. doesn’t have access to sufficient funding to do the job, he said.
Salame has been spearheading the reconciliation push between the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of Libya’s oil resources after an offensive in southern provinces this year.
Haftar’s victories alarmed overseas backers who feared he could attempt a disastrous march on the capital, and fueled renewed efforts for a peace deal. A UN-sponsored national conference will be held on April 14 to agree a roadmap for the country, including plans for long-deferred elections.