Libya oil minister says output near pre-war levels

By RAMI AL-SHAHEIBI | April 23, 2012 | 5:06 PM EDT

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's oil minister says production is nearly back to its pre-war levels. It's now at 1.5 million barrels a day.

Abdulrahman Ben Yezza says Libya could start pumping about 1.6 million barrels a day by midyear. That's what Libya produced before the eight-month conflict to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi. That brought production to a halt. Gadhafi was captured and killed last October.

Current output is about 100,000 barrels a day higher than February's production.

Libya is hosting an oil and gas exhibition that has attracted an American delegation, with representatives of 20 U.S. companies and organizations, including Boeing, ExxonMobil and General Electric.

Ben Yezza said Monday the new Libyan regime wants to attract international investors to improve its lucrative oil and gas sectors.