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Oil and tempestuous Libyan waters

April 29, 2017

Off of the coast of Sidi Said, to the west of Tripoli, the Libyan Navy detained two tankers for allegedly smuggling oil.

One was an African flagged vessel, the Stark

The second a Ukrainian flagged vessel owned by Odessa Manchester Shipping SA called the “Ruta” – (Call sign Urse,  IMO number 8711899 and MMSI 272973000.)  Manchester Shipping operates from an office on Polski Spysk not far from Odessa Port.

The vast majority of the crew will therefore in all probability be residents of Odessa.

Libya claims the oil was to be smuggled from Libya to Malta (presumably to be the Maltese oil refinery).

According to Libyan claims, the apparent smugglers were detained after a 2 – 3 hour incident that involved a gun battle.  It is unclear whether that involved one or both suspected vessels.

Nevertheless, such is the contested nature of power in Libya, it is perhaps an open question as for whom this oil was being smuggled – if indeed it was being smuggled.

If it was being smuggled (and it probably was) the question is then was it purely for criminal gain, or for financing one of several groups of actors rivaling the very weak official government?

What do the “on hire” documents state for the Ruta?  How was Odessa- Manchester Shipping paid/to be paid?  How was it to be received in Malta, officially or otherwise?

An incident to follow for there may be some rather interesting answers over the coming weeks..

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