Libya: Update

Port news

Published: 24 July 2014

The situation

Members may have noted the recent reports of conflict between groups in Libya, especially in Tripoli and Benghazi. Reports indicated that this is some of the most severe conflict since the 2011 revolution.

From media reports it is understood that the UN Security Council's head of mission to Libya has warned that Libya is currently in the middle of an all-out confrontation between two major rival militia groups. He has also warned that the confrontation may escalate further.

The information below is thanks to our local correspondent, Mr Abdulhakim Khalil from Germa Shipping & Stevedoring Co.

Situation at certain ports in Libya

The situation with regards to the following ports appears to be that:

  • All oil terminals/ports are still in operation, save for Brega oil terminal
  • Brega oil terminal is currently on strike and the strike will continue for the time being
  • Benghazi and Tobruk commercial ports are operating normally at the moment
  • Although the port of Tripoli is open, cargo operations will face great difficulties as stevedores/labour remains unavailable due to the continued conflict
  • Benghazi may also face a similar situation as armed militia groups are also reported to be fighting in that city

It is important to note that the above situation is very dynamic and possibly subject to rapid changes. Any vessel going to Libya should seek to have a constant flow of update information from local agents and monitor the situation prior and during any call.

Loss prevention advice

The previous Skuld updates regarding safety of vessels calling at Libya remains relevant. The Association would urge members intending to call at Libya to bear the following in mind:

  1. Their contractual arrangements/charterparty clauses and whether these are sufficient to manage any issues which may arise from calling at Libya.
  2. Possibility of port/terminal blockades by protestors - at the very least this would mean delay for vessel.
  3. Increased armed violence and criminal activity.
  4. ISPS Code may not still be comprehensively executed or maintained by Libyan ports at the moment - the US Coast Guard has raised this as a concern and the Association has also advised on this situation.
  5. Vessels which call at certain countries after calling at Libya may have to undergo greater scrutiny from interested government agencies.
  6. One precautionary measure is for the master to stay in close contact with local agents and local correspondents - however this may be complicated by the situation on the ground which may make communication difficult or unreliable.
  7. Sudden changes in groups controlling key installations and ports - this may affect operations on the ground or put owners inadvertently at risk of breaching sanctions, e.g. if the port suddenly comes under another groups' control and the cargo from that port is therefore declared as illicit cargo under sanctions.
  8. Sanctions on Libya - this is not a comprehensive advice on Libyan sanctions and members should still make their own enquiries on their own specific situation.
    There continues to be financial sanctions on certain individuals and entities. As of 2014, there has also been a ban on illicit crude oil exports.
    In general, prudent owners would have to ensure that they are not doing business with sanctioned entities or individuals. This would require checks on the UN, US, EU sanction lists as well as the relevant countries such as the discharge port's destination country, owners' own home country etc..
  9. As mentioned above, the sanctions include a ban on trade in illicit crude oil exports from Libya. Based on the text of the UN resolution, the Libyan government will flag up to the Security Council committee vessels/cargos which are engaged in illicit crude oil exports. The powers provided by the UN resolution include inspection of the suspect vessel on high seas, as well as sanctions against the suspect vessel.

It has already been reported that at least one vessel was detained by US Navy personnel after having loaded a cargo from a port not under official Libyan Government control.

For further information, members are asked to contact the Association.

The Association is grateful to Messrs. Germa Shipping & Stevedoring Co. for contributing to this update.