Natural resources and energy
Oil and natural gas are Libya's most
important natural resources by far. The country has
Africa's largest oil reserves, and the ninth largest in
the world. Oil reserves were estimated to be sufficient
for more than 50 years at the recovery rate that
prevailed before the outbreak of the war in 2011. The
country is also well placed to sell its assets to the
industrialized countries in Europe.
The oil sector was nationalized during the 1970s and
placed in the hands of the state-owned National Oil
Corporation (NOC). On the other hand, the oil sector was
never exposed to Muammar Gaddafi's experiments with
people's committees, but on the contrary, was very
careful to ensure the government a fixed and high
income. For example, the NOC continued to cooperate with
US oil companies even during Gaddafi's most US-hostile
phase, until the US government itself banned oil imports
from Libya in 1982. US sanctions against Libya were
lifted in 2003-2006, shortly after the UN and the EU
lifted most of its sanctions against Libya (see Modern
History and Foreign Policy and Defense).
Major exports by Libya with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In practice, the extraction is run in collaboration
with international companies. But oil exports have been
hurt by the unrest in the country since 2011 and are at
a fraction of the normal level due to strikes,
blockades, sabotage and the fact that armed
organizations have taken control of facilities. Natural
gas exports are affected to a lesser extent as the gas
is mainly extracted at sea and exported via pipelines
under the water, which the armed groups find more
difficult to access.
Libya is a member of the oil producing states' cartel
organization Opec and was during Gaddafi's time in power
a leading advocate for high oil prices, in contrast to,
for example, some of the states of the Persian Gulf.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, LY stands for Libya. Visit itypeusa for more information about Libya.
Most of the oil fields are located in the southeast,
but there is also oil in western Libya. The main export
ports open towards Great Syrten, the Mediterranean Gulf
of central Libya (also known as the Sidrabay or Sirte
Gulf). These include, for example, al-Sidra, Ras Lanuf,
Brega and al-Zuwaytina. Exports are also made via Tobruk
in the northeast and al-Zawiya in the northwest, for
example. In January 2011, the ports of Greater Syria and
eastern Libya accounted for two-thirds of the country's
oil exports, with the port of al-Sidra solely
responsible for one-third of Libya's oil trade.
Libya also has large reserves of natural gas. In the
1990s and 2000s, the government tried to replace oil
consumption with natural gas in the domestic market, to
release oil for export. Almost all electricity came from
oil-fired power plants in the past, but now gas accounts
for a large part of electricity production.
A Russian-built research reactor was opened for
inspections by the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency
IAEA in 2003. The plant then began to be converted to a
conventional nuclear power plant. In 2007, France signed
an agreement with Libya that opened for the construction
of a nuclear reactor. Libya's stated purpose in using
nuclear energy is electricity generation and
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2,855 kg of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1841 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
56 996 thousand tons (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
9.2 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
2.0 percent (2015)
Sirte is stated to be completely liberated
Unity government leader Sarraj says the armed
operation in Sirte has ended and the city is liberated
from IS. Thus, the terror sector no longer holds any
territory to speak of. However, Sarraj warns that the
fight against IS is not over.
Continued battles in Sirte
About 20 people are killed in fighting between
government-loyal forces and IS- jihadists who are still
in a part of the city. A Dutch journalist is shot dead
by a sniper while eight soldiers and at least ten
jihadists die in fighting.
Alarms about starving families
Amnesty International says that around 130 families
who are deported from the outside world in Ganfouda
district of Benghazi are at risk of starvation.
Islamists hold the besieged area, surrounded by Haftar
Oil is shipped from Ras Lanuf
A Malta-flagged ship heads for Italy and becomes the
first oil tanker in two years to leave Ras Lanuf. It is
also the first export since General Haftar's forces
entered the oil ports and handed them over to the state
oil company NOC.
Nearly a quarter of a million migrants in Libya
The UN envoy Kobler states that 235,000 migrants are
in the country waiting for a chance to cross the
Mediterranean. According to the Italian Ministry of the
Interior, 128,000 have already taken over so far during
the year (compare August 2015).
The Tripoli government loses oil terminals
Forces loyal to General Haftar in eastern Libya over
the course of a few days take control of the oil
terminals in Ras Lanuf, Sidra, Zuwaytina and Brega, from
militia groups loyal to the unity government. The
terminals are absolutely central to oil exports. Haftar
has not acknowledged the UN-backed government in
Tripoli, but this is the first time direct strikes have
erupted. The offensive is condemned by the United
States, European countries and UN envoy Martin Kobler.
Concern is now mounting for a new major outbreak of
No more chemical weapons
The last chemical weapons stockpiles in Libya are
shipped from Misrata with a Danish ship, under UN
Thousands of migrants rescued off the coast
Around 6,500 migrants are picked up from the sea in
some 40 coordinated rescue efforts, one of the largest
to date. It takes place around two land miles outside
Sabrata. Since the EU and Turkey have agreed to halt the
flow of migrants coming to Europe via Turkey / the
Balkans, more and more people are seeking refuge again
via Libya. Most come from Eritrea and Somalia or West
African countries. During the year, over 3,000 people
drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to get to
Many dead in final battles in Sirte
At least 34 combatants are reported to have been
killed and 150 wounded as troops loyal to the unit
government attempt to occupy the last two IS-controlled
areas in Sirte. IS is reported to have triggered at
least five car bombs.
The Tobacco Parliament votes against the Unity
When the internationally recognized parliament in
eastern Libya holds a vote of no confidence, 61 of the
101 members present vote for it, 1 vote against and 39
abstain. However, the MPs give Fayez al-Sarraj ten days
to present a new unity government.
Aggravated humanitarian situation
UN envoy Martin Kobler says more than 2.4 million
Libyans are in need of assistance. Not least, drugs,
vaccines and medical equipment are missing. Nearly
300,000 children do not attend school and almost 350,000
Libyans are still internally displaced.
Wave of suicide attack in Sirte
The government says that IS has committed nine
suicides in one day, in an attempt to maintain control
of central parts of Sirte. Nine government soldiers are
killed and more than 80 wounded in the attacks.
IS headquarters intake
The Libyan militia forces say they have taken the
headquarters of the Islamist sector in a conference
facility in Sirte. IS is still said to control three
residential areas and one residential complex. The
United States has estimated that there are fewer than
1,000 IS fighters in the city.
US soldiers support efforts
9th of August
A special force of support supports the Libyan troops
who are fighting against IS in Sirte, reports the
Washington Post. US and also British soldiers stationed
at a joint operations center outside the city help to
coordinate the air strikes that have continued, and
provide the Libyan troops with intelligence.
Suicide bombings in Benghazi
At least 18 people die when a car-driven suicide
bomber explodes at the headquarters of a security force
fighting against Islamists in the city. It is the fourth
car bomb in Benghazi in just a week, although previous
assaults did not require as many lives.
US bombs IS in Sirte
US fighter planes attack Islamists in the port city
at the request of the unity government in Tripoli. This
is the first time the United States is carrying out
attacks in collaboration with the government (see also
November 2015 and February 2016). According to Prime
Minister Farraj, the enemy is causing "severe losses".
Many children miss schooling
The UN warns that around 279,000 children in Libya
cannot attend school because of the country's struggles.
A total of 558 schools have been closed.
Explosion plant recovered from IS
Government-loyal forces say they have occupied a
building that IS used as a factory for manufacturing
explosive charges, on the outskirts of Sirte.
The government condemns French military presence
The UN-backed government is reacting angrily after
French President François Hollande confirmed that three
French soldiers had been killed during an intelligence
mission in Libya. According to the government, this
constitutes a violation of the country's sovereignty.
The UN warns of the destruction of world heritage
The UN agency Unesco places all five world heritage
sites in Libya on its list of threatened sites. Armed
groups pose a threat to archaeological remains, stone
carvings and the ancient city of Ghadamis, the "pearl of
the desert", it is called.
The government occupies headquarters
After just over three months on the fleet base, the
UN-backed government moves into the government's usual
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is reported to be free
Gaddafi's new lawyer states for French television
that the former dictator's son has been on the loose
since April and is in Libya "well-rested". He must have
been covered by an amnesty law adopted by the former
House of Representatives in Tripoli.
The presidency kicks off four ministers, including
the finance minister, because they have not taken up
Continued battles in Sirte
Over 30 government supporters are killed in battles
with IS and around 100 injured.
At least 25 people are reported dead after an
explosion in Garabulli, five miles east of Tripoli. The
cause is unclear but it may have been an internal
business settlement. At the same time, fighting is
ongoing in the area.
Fighting rages in Sirte
Forces loyal to the unity government are said to be
close to taking control of the coastal city, which would
mean a major advance in the fight against IS. The
Islamist group should be surrounded by an area in the
Former regime representatives murdered
Twelve people who have just been released from
prison, conditional on their connections to the Gaddafi
regime, are found shot to death.
IS loses power plant
A group loyal to the Unity Government takes control
of an important power plant near Sirte. Fighting against
IS is ongoing on the outskirts of Sirtes.
IS is driven out of two cities
The Armed Forces PFG forces retake two coastal
cities, Ben Jawad and Nofiliya, during an advance west
US terrorist stamps IS-Libya
The Libyan IS branch is placed on the US black list
of global terrorism, which means that sanctions can be
imposed on people who are considered a threat. IS
groupings in Yemen and Saudi Arabia also receive the
stamp of terror, but IS-Libya is also referred to as a
"foreign terrorist organization".
Violent fighting near Sirte
Fighting against IS near Sirte demands 32 lives among
fighting loyal to the unity government, while at least
50 are injured, the government says. Seven people also
die when a car bomb explodes six miles west of Sirte.
IS is charged with illegal executions
Human Rights Watch states that at least 49 people
have been murdered in Sirte following allegations such
as mockery, witchcraft or espionage. The executions are
conducted without normal legal process and constitute
war crimes, according to the New York-based human rights
The unit government requests assistance with
The government wants fighter jets and helicopters to
fight IS, and says they have already made great progress
in a counter-offensive against IS. Among other things,
the junction of Abu Qurayn has been revoked.
Support for lifting the UN arms embargo
The United States, Italy and other allies and
neighboring countries to Libya agree during a meeting in
Vienna to support the Unity Government's request to
purchase weapons and aid with military training to
Presidential Guard formed
The Unity Government announces that a new military
force will be formed with the task of guarding
government buildings, border posts and other important
places. It is the UN's first government-sponsored
initiative to establish an armed force in the country.
IS is moving west
The jihadists are taking land west of Sirte for the
first time when they take control of Abu Qurayn (Abu
Grein), an important crossroads where the coastal road
meets the main road south. The crossroads are located 15
miles west of Sirte and 10 miles south of Misrata, the
country's third largest city. A week later, a suicide
attack is carried out at a roadblock in the desert, five
miles west of Abu Qurayn. In addition to two assailants,
four soldiers die and 24 are injured.
Majority support the Unity Government
102 members, a majority of the members of the Tobruk
Parliament, claim to have confidence in the unity
government, but no formal vote has yet been reached.
UN personnel return to Tripoli
Three years after the UN left Libya because of the
rising violence, UN employees are back in place in the
Visit by European Foreign Ministers
As a way of showing support for the new unity
government, foreign ministers from France, Germany and
the UK visit Tripoli. At the same time, the EU promises
financial and military support to the Unity Government.
Diplomats from several other countries have also
recently visited Libya.
The US warns of IS inflows
According to US President Barack Obama, more IS
supporters are moving to Libya because of the group's
backlash in Iraq and Syria. Obama has called it his
worst mistake as president to let Libya fall apart after
Gaddafi was ousted. New intelligence reports in the
United States claim that the number of IS fighters in
Libya has probably doubled in the past 12-18 months, to
between 4,000 and 6,000.
The Unity Government takes control of the website
The site used by the Tripoli government is taken over
by the new government and is given a new logo and new
names on the ministerial list.
Conflicting messages about the Tripoli government.
The situation is obviously chaotic. An unsigned
message is published on the Ministry of Justice's
website stating that the government, never recognized
outside the world, will resign, to avoid further
bloodshed. But the next day, Chief Minister Ghawi urges
his ministers not to give up.
Important bodies support the unit government
The central bank, the influential state oil company
NOC, the guard force at the oil facilities in the east
and a number of important municipalities (such as
Sabrata, Zawiya, Zuwara and Obari) are among those who
support the government of al-Sarraj.
The EU is facing sanctions
Three people get travel bans and assets frozen
because of their opposition to the unity government: the
Tripoli Ghawi government head, Tripoli Nuri Abusahmen
Speaker and Agilah Saleh Issa who is the Speaker of the
Tobruk House of Representatives.
The Tripoli government falters
Despite earlier threatening statements, the
government that has been in Tripoli seems to be on the
verge of dissolving itself. The al-Ghawi commander is
reported to be fleeing to his home town of Misrata.
Thus, the risk of confrontation in the capital with the
new unity government seems to be decreasing. However,
members of the militia are still guarding the National
Congress which has not given up.
The UN gives the unity government sole legitimacy
The Security Council adopts a resolution which means
that all oil exports must go through the new management.
The unity government comes to Tripoli.
Fayez al-Sarraj and six other UN-backed leaders come
to the Libyan capital by boat, despite the warnings.
They set up a temporary headquarters at a naval base.
The airspace has been closed because the existing
government in Tripoli wanted to keep the presidency
away. al-Sarraj speaks at a press conference about a new
era of "dialogue and communication". But Khalifa al-Ghawi,
the head of the Tripoli-based government, talks about
"illegal infiltrators" and says measures should be taken
to save the country from chaos and foreign intervention.
The UN chief pleads for the unity government
Ban Ki-Moon is visiting Tunisia and urges all parties
to have the unit government set to work as soon as
possible. Those who prevent it should be held
accountable, says the secretary general.
"Maximum state of emergency" in Tripoli
The Tripoli government issues a warning after the
Tunisian presidential council said that the unity
government will soon install itself in Tripoli.
The UN envoy is prevented from traveling to Tripoli
Martin Kobler intended to try to move the work
forward and prepare for the unity government to take up
office in the capital, but was prevented from flying
there at all.
Neighboring countries want to see unity government
At a Tunisian ministerial meeting, delegates from
Algeria, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Chad call on Libya
parties to urgently get the unity government in place.
The Tobruk government warns against unity government
The government in Tobruk warns in a statement the
so-called unity government to try to take office, and
warns "foreign parties" to try to get the new government
in place. No one should deal with such a government
until it has passed a vote of confidence in Parliament,
The Tripoli government announces unity government
A government that has been appointed by foreign
countries without a consensus in Libya has nothing to do
in Tripoli, it states in a clear setback for the
attempts to set up the so-called unity government.
The EU is preparing sanctions
14th of March
The EU has started to plan for sanctions against
individuals that are an obstacle to the unity
government, says Union Foreign Minister Federica
The Unity Government intends to take office
the 12th of March
A call signed by 100 parliamentarians in Tobruk
equates to a vote of confidence and the UN-backed
government thus considers itself mandated to take
office. No vote in Parliament has been held.
French forces in Libya
The Tobruk government rejects information in French
media that French special forces are in Libya to fight
IS, which the Tripoli government has confirmed.
The US may attack from Italy
Defense Secretary Roberta Pinotti states that the US
has been given the go-ahead to use an air base in Sicily
for drone attacks to protect people and assets used to
No vote unity government
The Tobruk Parliament fails to gather enough members
to vote for the new government.
Success against jihadists in Benghazi
Forces loyal to the Tobruk government are said to
have expelled jihadists from the Lithi district of
Benghazi, described as a jihadist center and come to be
called "Benghazi Kandahar" (after a province in
UN envoy to Tobruk
Martin Kobler will "assist" with the vote of
confidence for the proposed unity government, scheduled
to be held on February 23.
Fighting in Benghazi
Nineteen members of the Tobruk faithful security
forces are killed during two days of fighting to take
control of a Benghazi district. At least eight members
of a militia group are also killed.
Government programs are presented
The intended Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj presents
his program to the Parliament in Tobruk.
US attack against IS
US flights bomb IS positions in Sabrata, west of
Tripoli. Among the 50 people killed are Tunisian
Noureddine Chouchane, who is suspected to have played a
key role in the two major terrorist acts against
tourists in Tunisia in 2015 (see Tunisia: Current
Politics). According to the US Department of Defense,
the attack was likely to avert a new major attack in
Tunisia. Two Serbian embassy employees held hostage
since November should also have died in the air strike.
A new government proposal is presented
The UN-backed Presidency Council presents a new unity
government to which the Tobruk Parliament will take a
position. The government consists of 18 ministers.
IS commander to Libya
High-ranking leaders are said to have sat in relative
security in Libya, ahead of the intense bombing war
against IS in Syria and Iraq. An increasing number of
foreign combatants are reported to have gathered in
Sirte - besides Iraqis and Syrians, including Tunisians,
Egyptians, Sudanese and Algerians.
Parliamentarians who supported the UN agreement are
Ten members of the Islamist-backed parliament in
Tripoli are reported to have been fired because they
have signed the power-sharing agreement.
The outside world sees increased IS threat in Libya
Representatives of 23 countries meet in Rome to
discuss the war on IS. The US-led alliance says they
have successfully pushed back IS in Syria and Iraq,
which, however, is contributing to an increasing number
of IS members applying to Libya. However, there are no
plans for any major military intervention in Libya, it
says. However, the United States has admitted that, at
some point, smaller groups of special forces were
recently sent to Libya. Other NATO countries are also
believed to have sent smaller groups to seek potential
local allies ahead of a major clash with IS.
The Tobacco Parliament votes no to the Unity
Out of 104 members present, 89 vote against the
agreement on a unity government. The outcome of the vote
represents a major setback for the UN's attempt to unite
the two rival parliaments. The Tunisian Presidency now
has ten days to try to put together a new, smaller
Multibillion losses in missing oil revenues
The state oil company NOC states that the country has
lost $ 68 billion in oil revenues since 2013, reports
the Financial Times.
The Unity Government is presented
The UN-backed unity government is presented by a
presidential council based in Tunisia announcing the
names of 32 ministers, including Fayez al-Sarraj as head
of government and Marwan Abusrewil as foreign minister.
Information on disputes surrounding the ministerial
posts and that members of both rival parliaments still
question the settlement mean that it is doubtful whether
it will lead to any difference in practice.
Over 60 dead in suicide bombings against police
7 th of January
At least 65 people are killed and over 100 in a blast
at a training center for prospective police officers,
located at a former military base in the city of Zliten
in the west. A suicide bomber in a truck is behind the
attack, which is said to be the bloodiest since
Gaddafi's fall. IS takes on the deed.
IS attacks oil plants
Struggles erupt when IS attacks several oil
terminals. For several weeks, IS has been trying to move
east from its stronghold in Sirte. Many have warned of
devastating consequences if the jihadist group manages
to take control of Libya's oil reserves. The battles
last for several days. At least four large oil storage
tanks in al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf are burning after IS
attacks. Combat aircraft from the Tobruk Government have
participated in the defense of the area.