Posted on May 11, 2018 by Hannah Berry
Principal Marine Insurer Gard has issued a stark warning to all tanker operators who are organising transits to Libya that crew members are at increased risk of arrest due to a government crackdown on illegal petroleum smuggling.
Libya has seen a steep increase in black market petroleum smuggling over recent years as the nation’s oil industry has been adversely affected due to disputes amongst sections of the government over oil revenue. Approx. 300 seafarers have been arrested by the government of Libya as they attempt to contain and suppress the illegal activity.
To stay safe Gard have advised all tankers to stay well within the established sea lanes for the Libyan ports as most of the arrests have been made within 25 nm of shore. Vessels have also been advised to avoid calling at loading areas between Zawiya and the Tunisian border as vessels which have transited these areas are most at risk of being boarded by the Libyan Navy according to Gard.
Many of those arrested remain in prison awaiting trail although some of those held are innocent seafarers caught up in the increased security measures. Investigations are long term and the detainees can be held indefinitely with the vessel remaining at anchor for the foreseeable future.
Gard have also issued the following recommendations for those tankers who must operate on this route as a measure to increase crew safety:
- Obtain a certificate of origin indicating that the shippers are indeed the National Oil Company (NOC) or an approved legal entity of the NOC. The Libyan NOC has the sole rights and control of all oil exports from the country.
- Establish the legitimacy of cargo interests and whether they can legitimately ship oil cargoes from Libya.
- Tankers delivering fuel oil should sail directly out of Libyan waters without deviation or delay after port operations are finished, as such deviations or delays may be construed as suspicious by the authorities.