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Libya is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the holder of Africa’s largest proved oil reserves, and an important contributor to the global supply of light, sweet crude oil. Libya now holds the largest amount of proved crude oil reserves in Africa, the fourth largest amount of proved natural gas reserves on the continent.

Libya’s economy is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), oil and natural gas account for nearly 96% of total government revenue and 98% of export revenue in 2012. Roughly 79% of Libya’s export revenue comes from crude oil exports, which brought in around $4 billion per month of net revenues in 2012. EIA’s OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet has net oil export revenues also at $4 billion per month from January to June 2013. During the 2011 civil war, the drop in oil and natural gas production led to an economic collapse, and real GDP contracted by 62% for the year.

Libya is believed to hold large amounts of untapped hydrocarbon resources as it shares similar hydrocarbon-bearing geological structures with its neighbouring countries although most of the country remains unexplored.

Libya had proved crude oil reserves of 48 billion barrels as of January 2013– the largest endowment in Africa, accounting for 38% for the continent’s total, and the ninth largest amount globally. About 80% of Libya’s reserves are located in the Sirte basin, which also accounts for a vast majority of the country’s oil output.

Libya has six large sedimentary basins such as Sirte, Murzuk, Ghadames, Cyrenaica, Kufra, and the offshore, which the government believes has substantial undiscovered potential. Libya could significantly increase its reserves because a majority of the country remains unexplored and it shares similar hydrocarbon-bearing geological structures as its neighbouring countries, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Libya Oil Exploration and development

The country’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has emphasized the need to apply enhanced oil recovery techniques to increase crude oil production at maturing oil fields. Before the 2011 civil war, the NOC claimed that capacity additions of around 775,000 bbl/d were possible from existing oil fields.