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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Libya News

Libya Seizes Tanker Suspected of Fuel Smuggling

© Andrea Izzotti / Adobe Stock

Libya's naval forces seized a Togo-flagged fuel tanker and arrested its Greek crew on suspicion they planned to smuggle oil out of the North African country, a spokesman for the forces said on Thursday. Libya's western coast is a departure point for the smuggling of heavily subsidised gasoline to neighbours such as Tunisia and Malta, where retail prices are much higher. "The naval forces seized a Togo-flagged oil tanker in the territorial waters without permissions from the state of Libya. It has the name LAMAR," naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

Total acquires Marathon Oil Libya


Total has acquired Marathon Oil Libya Limited which holds a 16.33% stake in the Waha Concessions in Libya. This acquisition will give Total access to reserves and resources in excess of 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, with immediate production of around 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) and a significant exploration potential across the area of 53,000 square kilometers covered by the Concessions in the prolific Sirte Basin. The consideration payment for the transaction is 450 million U.S. dollars.

23 Migrants Likely Dead on Trip from Libya to Italy

The International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday that 21 migrants were missing, and had probably drowned, after two boats, a rubber dinghy and a wooden boat, set off from Libya for Italy and had to be rescued.   IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva that all 132 people on the rubber dinghy had been rescued, but 21 were missing from the 51 on the wooden boat, and two dead infants had reportedly been discovered on board, bringing the likely death toll to 23.   Reporting by Tom Miles  

Methanol Plant at Libyan Port Shut after Accidental Blast

 A methanol plant in the Libyan oil port of Brega has stopped operations after an accidental explosion caused by a gas leak, an official said on Tuesday.   The plant will remain shut until safe operations can be guaranteed, but it was not clear how long this would take, said Issa Mukhtar, an official at Sirte Oil Company which runs the plant.   One worker was injured by the explosion which occurred early on Saturday and was caused by a leak in a natural gas heating unit, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.   Firefighters dealt with the blast, which could be heard across the surrounding area, a Sirte Oil engineer said. (Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by David Evans)

First Oil tanker Libya's Hariga Since Strike, Storm

An oil tanker has docked at Libya's port of Hariga for the first time since security guards ended a strike this week and a storm passed, a port official said on Thursday. Authorities managed earlier this week to persuade security guards to end a strike over delayed salary payments, keeping Libya's only functional onshore oil export port open. A storm then further delayed the terminal's reopening. Greek-registered Minerva Zoe, which had been waiting to dock for a week, would start loading 725,000 barrels of oil soon, the official said, asking not to be identified. The tanker was bound for Italy. Another tanker importing 25,000 tonnes to Libya had also arrived, he said.

Exxon Mobil Signs EPSA to Explore Offshore Libya

Exxon Mobil Corporation announced that its subsidiary, ExxonMobil Libya Limited, has signed an Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) to begin exploration activity offshore Libya. The agreement covers the large Cyrenaica Basin Contract Area 44, which was awarded in the second round of EPSA IV licensing in October. The contract area comprises 2.5 million acres and is located offshore in water depths ranging from approximately 10 feet to more than 10,000 feet.

Maltese PM Visits Libya

Maltese Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami left last week for a two-day visit to Libya expected to focus on oil and shipping. Government sources said talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were expected to focus on trade and the renewal of a contract for Libya to sell oil to Malta at favorable rates. A large delegation of Maltese businessmen and industrialists headed by Economic Services Minister Josef Bonnici will also be over in Libya. Bonnici said his visit marked the start of an active trade promotion program with Libya for the next two years. Malta's Export Trade Corporation also intends opening an office in Libya.

UN Resolution Targets Libyan Fuel Smugglers

The U.N. Security Council has extended sanctions on illegal oil exports from Libya to cover refined petroleum products as well, in a bid to stem rampant smuggling of subsidised fuel by sea. Imported fuel that is priced lower for the domestic market is commonly smuggled by ship from western Libya to Malta, Italy and Turkey, and by land to Tunisia, according to U.N. investigators who earlier this month recommended an extension of the sanctions. Entrenched and powerful smuggling networks have been trading fuel for years, and it is unclear to what extent the resolution can be enforced. The new resolution, approved late on Thursday, is designed to make explicit that fuel smuggling is illegal…

Total Has Moved Tripoli Expatriates out of Libya

French oil major Total has moved all expatriate staff based in Tripoli out of Libya following heavy fighting at the North African country's biggest airport in recent days, a spokeswoman said on Friday. "Following what happened at the airport, we have pre-emptively relocated expatriate staff based in Tripoli away from Libya," the spokeswoman told Reuters. She declined to say how many staff had been affected or their destination, citing security reasons. Local workers remain in Libya and there are still expatriates working on the offshore fields, she said. Since 2013, Total has moved some of its Libya-based staff to Malta following fighting in the Arab nation.

Oil Tanks Destroyed at Libya Port, Others Still Ablaze

Two oil storage tanks remain on fire at Libya's Es Sider oil port while two others have collapsed almost a week after clashes there sparked the blaze, a spokesman for state National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Tuesday. Fires at two other storage tanks at Libya's biggest oil port had been extinguished but the damage was unclear, NOC spokesman Mohamed El Harari said. An industry source said at least 1.2 million barrels of oil had been destroyed by the fire which broke out after clashes reported on Dec. 25 between armed factions allied to Libya's internationally recognised government and a group called Libya Dawn which is vying for control of the country.

Oil Tankers are Front Line of Libya's Struggles

Crew members killed in tanker attack this month; West fears worsening violence could lead to civil war. Oil shippers face higher costs and the possible loss of insurance cover on Libyan voyages, caught in a struggle between the rival governments there and threatened by air attacks. John Dalby of maritime security firm MRM, said he had prepared evacuation plans for an unnamed oil company if the situation deteriorated further, adding that attacks on tankers were expected to continue, reducing the pool of ships willing to make runs to and from Libya. "We are likely to see more attrition between the rival governments and tankers are an easy target," he said. "This is expected to mean tanker owners will be even less keen on risking their tankers.

BP has Hopes for Libya Gas Exploration

British oil and gas company BP is hopeful of making good natural gas discoveries in Libya and plans to begin exploring there later this year, Reuters reported. BP and Libya signed a gas exploration deal last year that marked the return of the world's third-largest fully publicly traded oil firm by market value to the north African oil exporter after a 30-year break. Last year, BP said it would drill 17 exploration wells across a large area of 13.3 million acres with an initial exploration budget of $900m. Libya has attracted interest from international oil firms since 2004, when the United States and European Union eased sanctions following Libya's agreement not to pursue nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Libya's PFG to Lift Terminal Blockades

Petroleum Facilities Guard has blocked terminals for months. Ras Lanuf, Es Sider terminals damaged by fighting. Libya's Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) will start lifting a blockade on eastern oil terminals over the next three days, though a resumption of exports will depend on the state of the ports, a spokesman said on Friday. The PFG, which protects Libya's oil terminals and fields, has blockaded the major eastern terminals of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Zueitina for months, and promises earlier this year to reopen them have so far come to nothing. Labour disputes, political conflict and security threats have crippled Libya's oil output over the past three years.

France to Help Libya with Naval Security

Image: French Navy

France has expressed its willingness to help Libya’s new unity government with maritime security as the fledgling administration seeks to assert its authority over the chaos-wracked country, reports AFP. "We must wait for [Libyan] Prime Minister [Fayez Sarraj] to tell us what security measures should be taken and what he intends to get from the international community to ensure the maritime security of Libya," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. On Monday, it was agreed at a meeting of US…

Western Nations Urge Calm at Libyan Port

Western countries including the United States, France and Britain said in a joint statement on Wednesday they were concerned by mounting tension around the Zueitina oil terminal in Libya. Washington, Paris, London and the governments of Germany, Spain and Italy urged a return to government control of all oil and gas installations and called on all parties "to abstain from any act of hostility and avoid all actions that could damage or disrupt energy infrastructure". Zueitina is one of three eastern oil ports blockaded by Libya's Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). The PFG has signed a deal to reopen the ports with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, but forces loyal to a separate government based in eastern Libya have threatened to block a resumption of exports.

EU Leaders Seek More Vessels for Libyan Coastguard

European Union leaders will on Thursday call for more vessels for the Libyan coastguard to help it prevent migrants leaving its shores for Europe, sources said. Migrant arrivals from Libya to EU member state Italy are higher this year than last at more than 175,000 people. Curbing immigration is the bloc's top priority after about 1.4 million refugees and migrants reached it in 2015-2016. The EU's naval operation in the Mediterranean, Sophia, which is targeting arms traffickers and training the Libyan coastguard, is obliged to pluck out of the sea people who leave Libya in unreliable boats provided by people smugglers, meaning most of those who reach Italy arrive on EU vessels. One EU official said the bloc is increasingly worried that Sophia "has become a taxi service".

Italy's Help Sought to Extinguish Fire at Oil Port

Smoke rises from an oil tank fire in Es Sider port. A fire at an oil storage tank at Libya's Es Sider port has spread to two more tanks after a rocket hit the country's biggest terminal during clashes between forces allied to competing governments.

Libya has called on Italy to send firefighters to prevent a fire spreading out of control at Es Sider, the country's biggest oil port, officials said on Saturday. A rocket hit an oil storage tank last week at the port in the east of the country during clashes between forces allied to Libya's competing governments. Ali al-Hassi, spokesman for a security force allied to the internationally-recognised government, said the fire had spread to a total of five oil tanks. "We are trying to extinguish it but our capacities are limited," he said.

Libya's Oil Output Wanes as Fighting Shuts Ports

Hariga fields still producing but Libya's current output a fraction of pre-2011 levels. Libya is producing 128,000 barrels of oil a day from fields connected to far eastern port of Hariga, an oil official said on Monday, while fighting halts work at major ports Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. Output from the OPEC member nation remains at a fraction of the 1.6 million barrels a day it produced prior to the 2011 ouster of leader Muammar Gaddafi. Its two largest ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, have stopped working due to clashes between forces allied to Libya's internationally recognised government and those loyal to a rival group called Libya Dawn which seized control of Tripoli in August. Several oil storage tanks at Es Sider have been on fire for days after clashes there.

US State Dept. Condemns Oil Tanker Bombing

The U.S. State Department has issued a statement in which it “strongly condemns” the bombing of a Greek-operated oil tanker near Derna, Libya on January 4 that killed two crewmen. “The ongoing escalation of violence in Libya against civilian commercial interests further widens a conflict that is fundamentally political and threatens the integrity, unity, neutrality and independence of Libya’s critical institutions, including the National Oil Company,” the statement said.

Libyan Coastguard Detains 114 African Migrants

Libya's coastguard detained 114 African migrants in a packed boat headed for Europe on Thursday, officials said. Some 43,000 migrants have crossed from North Africa to Italy so far this year, mostly via Libya where a weak central government is struggling to secure its porous land and sea borders. "We arrested this group of illegal migrants during our daily patrol early this morning," a coastguard official told Reuters as the boat was brought to shore at Gharbouli east of Tripoli. The area is frequented by human traffickers exploiting the weakness of Libya's state authorities since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. "They (the migrants) are from sub-Saharan countries and most of them are from Senegal," the official added.

Greek Warship Evacuates Libya Personnel

Greek Frigate Salamis: Photo CCL

Greece safely evacuated embassy staff and more than one hundred Chinese and European nationals from Libya early on Friday with a navy frigate sailing back to the Greek port of Piraeus, its defence ministry said. Athens had sent a frigate and two other vessels to Libya to evacuate workers at its embassy in Tripoli on Thursday. The past two weeks of fighting between rival militias in Libya have been the worst since the civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, prompting Western…

ExxonMobil Signs EPSA IV Agreement for Exploration

Exxon Mobil Corporation confirmed that its subsidiary, ExxonMobil Libya Limited, has signed an Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) to initiate exploration activity offshore Libya in the Sirte Basin. The agreement includes four blocks located in Contract Area 20, approximately 100 miles off the Libyan coast, which were awarded to ExxonMobil in the third round of EPSA IV licensing in December. The contract area comprises 2.5 million acres and is situated in water depths ranging from approximately 4,000 feet to more than 6,500 feet. Elsewhere in Libya, ExxonMobil is in the very early stages of an exploration program in Contract Area 44 in the offshore Cyrenaica Basin…

Hermes Awarded VSAT License

The Libyan company, Hermes Communications Technology, has been awarded a VSAT License, issued by the Libyan government, which allows the company to provide VSAT communications to the oil and gas industry and other sectors in Libya. Glynn Wagg, Country Manager Libya, explains: “Our aim is to ensure that all our customers in Libya are provided with direct and extensive support and a more dependable and secure service. This license will aid our customers in receiving faster installations, clearer costs and the assurance of legal requirements”. Hermes Communications Technology, a joint venture partner of Hermes Datacommunications International Ltd, has an established presence within the Libyan capital, Tripoli, supplying VSAT communications, onshore and offshore, in city and remote locations.

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