Libyan official says oil output increasing fast

By the Associated Press | November 24, 2011 | 2:55 PM EST

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's oil production is quickly increasing and now stands at more than 600,000 barrels a day, a prominent Libyan oil expert said Thursday.

Ali Tarhouni, who just stepped down as the oil and finance minister, said he expects production to reach 700,000 barrels a day within a few days.

He held his government post until a new transitional government was sworn in Thursday. He said he refused an offer to serve in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib because of the many challenges it will face in establishing governance and economic stability.

Before the civil war, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels per day. Tarhouni said he expects production to reach about 1.2 to 1.3 million barrels by next June, when elections are scheduled to be held.

"That would be tremendous," he said.

Tarhouni told reporters in Tripoli that he will not hold any official position for now. He said he plans instead to travel around the country to give lectures and meet with young people in an effort to encourage civil society and democracy.