At Least Half of Libyan Oil Production Shut Down

More

The Financial Times is reporting that half or more of Libya's oil production has been shut down due to the unrest in the country. That's one reason the price of a barrel of Brent crude broke $110, a two-and-a-half year peak.

In recent times, Libya has exported the vast majority of the 1.6 million barrels of oil a day it produces, according to an International Energy Agency report. The biggest importers of the country's oil are Italy, China, France, Germany and Spain. Interestingly, U.S. imports of Libyan oil have fallen from 122,000 barrels a day in 2007 to just 51,000 barrels a day in 2010. Over that same time span, French and British imports have nearly doubled. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa.

To give you some perspective, U.S. oil consumption is over 20,000,000 barrels a day. Given Libya's relatively small contribution to the global oil supply, the turmoil in the energy and stock markets resulting from Libyan unrest lets you know how little slack there is in the oil market. As long as we use as much oil as we do, there's no way to avoid vulnerability to price spikes for geological or geopolitical reasons. It's a hidden cost of oil and one that we tend to forget any time the price of crude goes down.

For more information on Libya's role in the world energy economy, check out our chart of the top Libyan oil importers, and read Uri Friedman's FAQ on what Libyan unrest means for global oil prices.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In