Libya will investigate seized tanker after quarantine concludes

The internationally recognized Libyan government, which controls about half of the country has said that it would be beginning its investigation into alleged sanctions-breaking of a tanker after a period of quarantine ends in two weeks.

The coast guard at Misrata seized chemical/oil products tanker Gulf Petroleum 4 earlier this week. Coast guard commander Rida Issa said on Wednesday March 25th that it had been told by the National Oil Corporation (NOC) that when the tanker had offloaded jet fuel in Benghazi it had broken an arms embargo and other international agreements.

Benghazi is the effective capital of the de facto rulers in the east of Libya whose Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying for a year to capture the capital Tripoli, where the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is based.

Issa said that “our patrols seized the Gulf Petroleum 4 three days ago after we received reports by NOC that the ship was carrying jet fuel from the port of Sharjah to the port of Benghazi”. He said the tanker’s captain had said it had been carrying kerosene and had offloaded, but added that samples had been sent to the NOC laboratory at Brega for testing.

The vessel had a fuel leakage that caused a small fire and a burn injury to a crew member before the coast guard seized the ship, according to Issa.

A formal investigation will start after two weeks when a quarantine to prevent coronavirus contagion ends.

Although NOC is based in Tripoli, it operates across the country and is recognized internationally as the only legitimate exporter of Libyan oil. The eastern administration has pushed its allies to challenge that and allow it to export energy.

A parallel state oil company, set up by the Benghazi administration, said last week that the NOC had not supplied enough jet fuel to eastern Libya. It described the NOC’s statement accusing it of breaking the embargo as an attempt to generate new international sanctions on the east.

2009-built, Liberia-flagged, 8,539 Gulf Petroleum 4 is owned by AA Marine Inc care of Gulf Shipping Services FZC of Ajman, UAE.