Related Articles
Forward article link
Share PDF with colleagues

EXCLUSIVE: Qadhafi sourcing fuel from Turkey and Italy

Italian and Turkish fuel is still being shipped to government-controlled western Libya, providing Muammar Qadhafi's regime with fuel to sustain its war effort against rebels in the east

THE SALES are not illegal under the sanctions regimes imposed by Western governments against the Qadhafi regime. But moves are afoot within the EU to tighten sanctions to stop the sale of refined products to Libya.

A 15,000 tonne cargo of fuel shipped from Italy to the Qadhafi regime is due in Tripoli imminently and a second 42,000 tonne cargo is thought to have left Turkey last night, a senior source in the rebel government, the Transitional National Council (TNC), told Petroleum Economist on 17 May.

Petroleum Economist confirmed, using AIS ship tracking data, that the destination of the second vessel, Cartagena, is Zawiyah, the sole operating refinery in Qadhafi-held territory. A UK government source said the refinery was still processing oil, although the throughput volume is unknown.

The first cargo of fuel, aboard the Jupiter tanker, left the Sarrouch refinery in Sardinia two days ago, the source said. Saras, the company that runs the refinery, did not respond to requests for comment. Petroleum Economist’s data unit tracked the vessel’s location, confirming that the Jupiter left Sarrouch at 09:35GMT on 15 May. It was last recorded to be docked near Malta, flying under a Maltese flag.

A vessel may lift fuel from a refinery without specifying its final destination.

The source said operators in Tripoli involved in the transaction informed him of the deals. The purchaser of the fuel in Tripoli is El Sharara, a local firm. It is not on the list of companies targeted by EU sanctions against the regime. A second purchaser, a firm called International Business Group, also not listed under the sanctions regime, was involved in the deal, too, the source said.

The second cargo, aboard the Cartagena tanker, has been held in Turkey because of bad weather, the source said, but would ship its large containment of fuel in coming days. Petroleum Economist tracked the vessel, which the source said was owned by Libya's General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC), to Mersin, a port next to the Central Anatolian Refinery in Icel, Turkey. Cartegena was sailing under a Libyan flag.

The buyer of the fuel is BB Energy, the source said. But BB Energy is not part of any deal involving the Jupiter or Cartegana, the company told Petroleum Economist on 17 May.

When contacted on 16 May, BB Energy also denied any involvement in trading oil or fuel with the Qadhafi regime, and alleged another Middle East-based trader was arranging the deals.

The TNC, the fledgling Benghazi-based rebel government, has informed Nato, as well as senior UK and French authorities, of the trades.

“These vessels are supplying fuel that will go directly to Qadhafi’s forces,” the source said.

Neither the EU sanctions against specific individuals and companies in the regime, nor UN Resolution 1973, under which Nato is bombing Qadhafi military targets, prohibit the sale of fuel to Libya. Nato may interdict a vessel only if it suspects it to be carrying weapons.

However, the EU is now considering tightening its sanctions to target refined products exported to Libya, according to a government source within the bloc.

Prices for refined products in western Libya have soared in recent weeks. The flow of fuel from Tunisia to Tripoli has largely ceased after western governments put pressure on the Tunisian authorities. But the east continues to be supplied with ample petroleum. Vitol, the Switzerland-based trading firm, has shipped around six cargoes of fuel to Tobruk in recent weeks.

The company responded to a request from Qatar Petroleum, which has offered to manage oil trade in and out of the rebel-held east. It is understood that Vitol has not been paid for the fuel it has shipped to the TNC, but will be paid by Qatar on behalf of the rebel government. Vitol would not comment.

Also in this section
Suriname election soothes investor nerves
11 August 2020
Calmer political waters should help turn the country into a global exploration hotspot
Libyan production languishes under ‘illegal blockade’
4 August 2020
National Oil Corporation reports its lowest production since the blockade started in January as external forces gear up for clash over Sirte basin oilfields
Turkey’s ambitions have imperial echoes
4 August 2020
Facing the challenge of a domestic economic crisis, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes that successful military interventions in the surrounding region will foster nationalist solidarity