Gulf of Sidra, Libyan government, Mediterranean ports, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Sidr
In 1955, anticipating the discovery of petroleum in its territory, the Libyan government passed a petroleum concessions law, which, with subsequent amendments, was designed to promote rapid development of oil resources. Profits were to be divided equally between the oil companies and the Libyan government, and portions of each concession were to be returned to the state after a specified period. The first commercially exploitable petroleum deposits were discovered in 1958 and large-scale development began in 1961. By 1972, 21 United States and European firms held concessions to operate in the rich oil fields south of the Gulf of Sidra.
By 1970 crude oil production had reached more than 160 million metric tons a year, but in the 1970s it declined because of government restrictions. These restrictions were imposed partly to pressure foreign oil companies to agree to government demands, and partly to ensure that Libya’s oil reserves were not exhausted while the country was still largely undeveloped. Libya was the most militant of the oil-producing countries in demanding increased government participation in the oil industry. Through negotiations and seizures, by the end of 1973 Libya had extended government control over all of the oil companies operating in its territory. In 1973 and 1974, together with the other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Libya quadrupled the price of its oil. From 1972 to 1978 production averaged about 96 million metric tons a year. However, a doubling of oil prices in 1979 was followed by a glut in the world oil market in the early 1980s. Struggling to maintain prices, the Libyan government restricted production. Production dipped to 51 million metric tons in 1985, but rose again in subsequent years. In 2000 Libya produced 75 million metric tons of oil, or 1.5 million barrels per day. Crude oil is exported through tanker terminals at the Mediterranean ports of As Sidr, Ra’s Lanuf, Marsa al Burayqah, Marsa al Hariqah, and Az Zuwaytinah.
Libya has also produced and exported liquefied natural gas since the early 1970s. Marsa al Burayqah and the Surt area are major centers for natural gas mining and processing. In 1999 Libya produced 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Other minerals produced in significant quantities in Libya include marine salt and potash.
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