Libya's refineries are suffering due to a lack of crude oil production
All five of Libya's refineries are offline due to a lack of crude oil production and damage to facilities, the rebel oil firm AGOCO said on Saturday, leaving rebel forces wholly reliant on fuel imports.
"No refineries are working. They can't get crude oil. Some are in bad shape," AGOCO spokesman Abdeljalil Mayouf told Reuters.
AGOCO, a former subsidiary of the Libyan National Oil Company, sends crude oil to three of the country's five refineries at the ports of Tobruk, Ras Lanuf and a unit at the Sarir oilfield.
Mayouf said the 20,000 barrel per day (bpd) Tobruk refinery was closed for temporary maintenance while the other two refineries it is directly involved with were intact but not yet receiving crude oil feedstock.
It was not clear if the Brega and Zawiyah refineries were shut due to damage or a lack of crude oil. The country's total refining capacity is about 378,000 bpd.
Fuel tankers from Turkey and Lebanon's BB Energy have helped to top up supplies to Benghazi this month, with a further shipment from Russia's Gunvor due next week.
There are often long queues at petrol stations even in rebel-held parts of the country where no fighting has occurred in months. Power outages are also common.
Refinery restarts will depend on how quickly Libya can recommence crude production. AGOCO says it can start pumping crude oil within weeks at the Mesla and Sarir fields which have a combined capacity of 425,000 bpd, or about a quarter of the OPEC member's total production.
Repair work at these fields has been completed and a security force of 1,000-2,000 men was in place working on sending helicopters to monitor the area, according to Mayouf.
Analysts expect it to take time to restore the country's pre-war output level but say it could reach 1 Million bpd within months if order is restored quickly.
Even during the most intense fighting, some refineries were able to process small amounts of crude oil from storage caverns.
An industry source with knowledge of the country's largest refinery, the 220,000 bpd Ras Lanuf complex near the current front line, said the refinery had briefly been restarted earlier in August while still in Gaddafi-held territory but has since halted again, probably due to a lack of oil supply.
"The former regime restarted it for a few days a couple of weeks ago. So hopefully damage is not that bad," he said.