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The Libyan Coast Guard has intercepted an oil tanker flying the flag of Sierra Leone in Libyan waters, heading to Malta and suspected of carrying illicit cargoes of Libyan oil.
The 900-ton, 61-meter-long Captain Khayyam bunkering tanker was escorted to a naval base Tripoli, where it will be further investigated.
The tanker’s crew consists of nine people of various origins, including Turkish, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani, believed to be smuggling around 1 million liters of Libyan oil.
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the authorities have attempted to intercept a number of vessels believed to be smuggling Libyan oil, but not all attempts have been successful.
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One tanker, the Baku, ignored orders to halt and fled to Malta. In September, in western Libya the Coast Guard in western Libya intercepted a tanker with a Russian flag as it was attempting to break away with a load of oil off the coast of Zuwara. Libyan authorities claimed that Italian and Russian navy ships attempted to intervene and release the tanker.
Last week, Libya’s national oil company (NOC) said it had become aware of several companies trying to charter ships to load illicit cargoes of Libyan oil at the Marsa el-Hariga export terminal.
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Libya has Africa's largest oil reserves, estimated at 48 billion barrels. Its production was estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day in 2011 but has fallen by one-third due to the ongoing civil war between parallel governments and their loyalists.
More recently, the Islamic State (ISIS) has also moved to gain a foothold in Libya, launching attacks on Libyan oil facilities and taking control of the Libyan city of Sirte and hundreds of miles of its coastline.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…