Trading company in oil shipment for Libya’s eastern NOC says cargo legitimate

 28 Apr 2016 - 0:00

Trading company in oil shipment for Libya’s eastern NOC says cargo legitimate
The building housing Libyan state oil energy firm the National Oil Corporation NOC is seen in Tripoli February 22, 2016. Reuters / Ismail Zitouny


BENGHAZI, Libya: A trading company involved in loading 650,000 barrels of oil for a parallel national oil corporation set up by one of Libya’s rival governments said on Wednesday it believed the shipment was legitimate and had not been notified otherwise.

The shipment on behalf of Libya’s eastern NOC was loaded onto the Indian-flagged Distya Ameya, which left the port of Marsa el-Hariga late on Monday in defiance of authorities in Tripoli.

The Tripoli NOC and its international backers say that if the eastern government succeeds in its long-held aim of selling oil independently, it would undermine a U.N.-backed unity government that arrived in Tripoli last month and put the political and economic future of Libya at risk.

Authorities in Malta said they would refuse to allow the Distya Ameya to dock there after it sailed towards the island on Tuesday, and Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations has asked the U.N. Security Council to blacklist the tanker.

DSA Consultancy, a company listed in the United Arab Emirates, said in an emailed statement that it was surprised “to find that the legitimacy of the cargo was in question”.

The company said it had “a signed and agreed contract from the NOC dated 13th October 2015 to lift oil”, and that the “ultimate beneficiary” of the contract was the Central Bank of Libya.

“DSA always work strictly within the local and international legal frameworks, as of today DSA is not in receipt of any legal basis for challenging the cargoes legitimacy,” the statement said.

Neither DSA Consultancy nor the eastern NOC have named the end buyer of the oil shipment.

The Distya Ameya appeared to be south east of Malta when it last reported its position through the publicly available AIS tracking system on Wednesday afternoon.

The eastern NOC has issued defiant statements since it first tried to load the shipment late last week, saying it has a legal right to export oil and attacking attempts to block it from doing so.

The workers union of Arabian Gulf Oil Co (AGOCO), the eastern state oil firm that controls Hariga port, also issued a statement on Wednesday saying it supported the eastern NOC’s efforts to start selling oil.

The eastern NOC claims legitimacy from the government and parliament based in eastern Libya, which received international recognition after armed opponents took control of Tripoli in 2014 and installed rival institutions there.

The U.N.-backed unity government, which is still trying to establish its authority in Tripoli, is aimed at ending the political and armed conflict that broke out following the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

A U.N. Security Council resolution last month said the new unity government had the “primary responsibility” for preventing illicit oil sales, urging it to communicate any such attempts to the U.N. committee overseeing Libya-related sanctions.

In 2014, a group pressing for more autonomy in eastern Libya shipped crude from Es Sider terminal, but U.S. special forces boarded the vessel off Cyprus and forced it to return.

(Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by Patrick Markey and David Evans)