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Rival Libyan parliament says eastern force tried selling oil

By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Ayman al-Warfalli
Posted on Friday, 13 March 2015 04:37

Saleh al-Makhzoum said his parliament would complain to the U.N. special envoy for Libya about what he called an attempted crude lifting by a tanker trying to dock at Es Sider port.

It is against the law, and we know that tanker is called Vito and belongs to an Emirati company

Ali al-Hassi, spokesman for a security force controlling Es Sider, denied they had tried to sell crude bypassing Tripoli.

“Es Sider port and the entire oil crescent area has been declared a military zone and is under force majeure,” he said.

Hassi’s force is loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government and parliament based in eastern Libya.

Makhzoum insisted a tanker had tried to lift crude at Es Sider, a port in the so-called oil crescent area home to the country’s biggest export ports in eastern Libya.

“It is against the law, and we know that tanker is called Vito and belongs to an Emirati company,” Makhzoum told Reuters in Morocco.

Ship tracking data showed the Panama-flagged tanker was currently sailing past Crete, Greece.

Tripoli-based National oil Corp (NOC), the state oil firm, had earlier said unknown traders had offered Libyan crude outside the official channels.

It did not elaborate but warned against buying Libyan oil bypassing Tripoli.

A year ago, the same security force in Es Sider had tried selling crude on its own by loading oil on tankers, leading to a major standoff with the central government in Tripoli.

U.S. navy special forces eventually stormed the tanker off Cyprus and returned the cargo to Tripoli.

The oil force led by Ibrahim Jathran was then a rebel group campaigning for eastern autonomy.

Now he’s become a partner of the recognised government, opposing a rival government and parliament based in Tripoli.

The conflict is part of turmoil in the OPEC producer where former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 now fight each other over control, backed by rival governments and parliaments.

Political loyalties and alliances often change in Libya where both sides fight over control of the vital energy sector.

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