Oil production in Libya should ramp up faster than previously forecast, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday, but the North African country still won't be at full capacity at the end of next year.
Fighting between rebels and supporters of strongman Moammar Gadhafi slowed production to a trickle in recent months. The rebels have now taken control of most of the country, but damage to refineries, ports and pipelines and a general lack of security has kept production low.
The IEA said Tuesday that it now expects Libya to start pumping 350,000 to 400,000 barrels per day by the end of the year.
The IEA has been more cautious than some others in its estimates of Libya's ability to bring its oil production back online, and it previously said the country wouldn't reach full capacity until at least 2013.
It reiterated in its report Tuesday that "the road back to full operational recovery is likely to be a long and difficult one." Still, the Paris-based agency now expects production to rise to 1.1 million barrels per day by the end of next year. That's still fewer than the 1.6 million Libya was pumping before the conflict.
Meanwhile, the agency revised down its forecast for oil demand, saying its estimates for growth had also slipped. Daily oil demand was expected to increase by just 1 million barrels over last year to 89.3 million barrels. Demand next year was expected to be a little healthier at 90.7 million barrels per day.
The agency _ which is made up of more than two dozen mainly oil-importing countries in Europe _ said it cut its growth forecast for 2011 to 3.9 percent and to 4.2 percent for 2012.