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Libya Thwarts Suspected Oil Smugglers For Second Time This Week

A medium-sized oil tanker that was smuggling crude oil in the Mediterranean Sea was apprehended by the Libyan coastguard on Thursday, according to a new report by The New Arab. 

The ship, called “Rex,” had ten crew members, all of whom have been captured by the coast guard. Colonal Abu Ajila Abdelbarri told reporters that the crew and boat had been under tight surveillance prior to their arrest in Libyan waters.

The tanker flew the Tanzanian flag and carried 1.16 million liters of diesel. The crew contained five Turks, three Georgians and Two Indians.

Last Sunday, the same coast guard captured a crew of 20 Filipino sailors who had been smuggling 6 million liters of illicit crude.

Tripoli loses $400 million to oil smuggling every year, Libyan authorities say. The North African country holds the largest reserves of oil in Africa and its fields produced 1.6 million barrels per day, before the topping of Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in 2011.

Recent disruptions of oil production in Libya have cost the country 350,000 barrels daily in lost output, the central bank of the country said this week, adding that the effects of these disruptions will force it to curb spending further even though it has been trying to avoid this.

Related: Venezuela’s “Oil Fire Sale” To Benefit Russia, China

Before the recent string of production disruptions, which were caused by militant blockades on pipelines carrying crude from three fields to export terminals, Libya was pumping over 1 million barrels of oil daily, eyeing 1.2 million bpd in output by the end of the year.

But earlier this month, the largest field in the country—Sharara—shut down, followed by El Feel and Hamada shutdowns last week as well. The Hamada field resumed production on Monday, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed source. It is, however, the smallest of the three, so most of the production that the recent attacks took offline remains offline.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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