Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation, or NOC, said on Monday that the eastern region of the country ‘illegally’ imported an aviation fuel shipment from the UAE in violation of UN and Libyan laws.
The shipment came from the UAE to Benghazi on a ship called Gulf Petroleum 4 and has been in the port for a number of days, NOC said.
The tanker discharged around 10,000 mt of fuel in to Benhazi from March 13-16, according to data from S&P global Platts trade flow service cFlow. The tanker had loaded the cargo in Sharjah, UAE in late-February.
The North African oil producer is currently in the midst of a civil conflict between the UN-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA, and the self-styled Libyan National Army, or LNA, which has almost completely decimated its oil output.
Libya has already lost more than 1 million b/d of production due to a port blockade orchestrated by the LNA, who are sponsored by OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Tripoli-based NOC is the legitimate producer and exporter of Libyan oil, according to several UN resolutions, and this was also confirmed in the official communique at the recent Berlin peace talks.
NOC said it has informed the UN and GNA and numerous other governments, of this cargo which is in “clear violation to UN resolutions and Libyan laws.”
NOC said “the actions of the UAE appear to be in stark contradiction to its words.”
NOC said UAE had signed an agreement in September 2019 which had endorsed the state-run firm as the country’s sole independent, legitimate and nonpartisan oil company.
Representatives from the UAE Foreign Ministry were immediately unavailable for comment.
Relations between UAE and the GNA have not been on good terms as the latter has accused the fellow OPEC member of supporting LNA in the current conflict. the GNA is supported by Turkey and Qatar.
Divided oil sector
Libya’s oil sector is deeply fractured along western and eastern lines, much like most of the country.
NOC has previously accused eastern-based oil company that calls itself NOC east of signing supply contracts with UAE and Egyptian companies.
In April last year, there were reports NOC East was looking to export 2 million barrels of Saris/Mesla crude, but the shipment did not materialize.
In March 2014, US forces took control of the Morning Glory tanker in international waters after it had loaded from the then-rebel-held port of Es Sider.
Representatives at NOC East were unavailable for comment.
NOC has regularly warned its oil buyers and shipowners to avoid “illegal” cargoes from the east.
NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla reiterated that currently it is supplying “sufficient fuel” to all parts of Libya.
“The only reason I can think for additional fuel to be imported in this illegal and clandestine way is that it is intended for other purposes.”
NOC recently warned that the lack of funds to import sufficient refined products could result in fuel shortages.
The country’s crude production has slumped to below 100,000 b/d in the past few days, according to NOC, less than a tenth of what it was producing before January 18, when the port blockade began.
This is the lowest level since September 2011, when a civil war tore the country apart and led to the downfall of Colonel Moammar Qadhafi, according to S&P Global Platts OPEC survey data.
The fall in production has cost the country and its National Oil Corporation more than $3 billion and there are concerns that the country might be on the brink of fuel shortages as the country’s civil conflict intensifies.