Gaddafi imports more fuel, Turkey, Georgia deny role

REUTERS
LONDON

The Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi will receive fresh fuel supplies by buying a cargo that recently visited Turkish and Georgian ports, but both states denied involvement in the transaction.
Libya, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is reliant on imports for fuels such as gasoline, even in peacetime, because of insufficient refining capacity. Now civil war has crippled the refining industry, Gaddafi urgently needs fuel imports for military purposes and to keep civilian vehicles running in the areas he controls.
AIS live ship tracking data showed the Libyan-flagged oil products tanker Cartagena was heading from the Turkish port of Mersin to Zawiyah in west Libya.
This would make it the first known direct shipment to western Libya, controlled by Gaddafi’s forces, following previous secretive ship-to-ship transfers through Tunisia.
Turkey confirmed the vessel had anchored near Mersin but denied any involvement in the shipment.
“This ship did not make an official arrival-departure from Mersin to pick up goods. It anchored off Mersin port. It did not take goods from Mersin. There is information that it took goods from Georgia. We have established that the ship owner is foreign and the flag Libyan,” a Turkish foreign ministry official said.

A senior government official for Georgia — a U.S. ally — said the ship did not load fuel in the country.

“The Libya-flagged Cartagena tanker arrived at the (Black Sea) port of Poti in mid-April. I can tell you that it did not take any goods from Georgia and has already departed from Poti. There is one Turkish terminal in Poti port and we don’t know whether it took anything from them,” he said.

NOT ON SANCTIONS LIST

International sanctions against Libya are implemented through a list of companies that are excluded from business but exports to western Libya or dealings with firms not on the list are not forbidden.

The shipment is not illegal as the tanker belongs to Libyan state-owned shipping company General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC), which is not named on the United Nations sanctions list, although Libya’s National Oil Corporation is.

It has capacity to carry around 30,000 tonnes of fuel.

It did not send a satellite signal on Wednesday, according to AIS data on Reuters, but a separate website, www.marinetraffic.com, showed it was just north of Crete and heading west.

The vessel, carrying a cargo worth around $30 million based on current Mediterranean fuel prices, has a draught of 8-11 metres which indicates it is loaded, a shipping source familiar with the tanker’s movements said.

Trading sources said Swiss-based trading firm Global Energy Trading (GET) was involved in the transaction. Traders said gasoline could have been sourced from outside Turkey but loaded in the Turkish port. GET declined to comment on the record.

“They (the buyer) said it was going to Lebanon,” said a source with GET, adding the contract had a clause excluding the delivery to any country in U.N. restricted zones.

Reuters reported last month that Gaddafi was sourcing fuel through ship-to-ship transfers at the Tunisian port of La Skhira, with GNMTC involved in one shipment.


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