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UN Security Council Extends Sanctions against Illicit Libyan Petroleum Export | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A worker checks pipes and valves at Amaal oil field in eastern Libya October 7. Reuters

Tunisia- The United Nations Security Council released a resolution expanding sanctions on illegitimate Libyan oil byproduct exports, in hopes of curbing the spreading of sea oil trafficking.

The Council renewed the measures against illicit oil exports from Libya as well as the mandate of the expert panel assisting the sanctions committee through November this year.

In adopting resolution 2362, the Council condemned attempts to illicitly export petroleum, including crude oil and refined petroleum products, from Libya, including by parallel institutions which are not acting under the authority of the Government of National Accord.

The Council also raised concerns about activities which could damage the integrity and unity of Libyan State financial institutions and the National Oil Corporation and stressed the need for the Government of National Accord “to exercise sole and effective oversight” over the National Oil Corporation, the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority.

In the same resolution, the Council decided that the Panel of Experts on the issue shall provide an interim report on its work no later than 28 February 2018, and a final report, with findings and recommendations, by 15 September of next year.

The new resolution, approved late on Thursday, is designed to make explicit that fuel smuggling is illegal so that smuggling vessels “can be identified, blacklisted, and prevented from disembarking their cargo,” said a senior Western diplomat.

It expands on a 2014 resolution banning illicit crude oil exports from Libya, authorizing the inspection of suspect ships, and calling on member states to take necessary measures to block attempted exports.

Those measures “shall apply with respect to vessels loading, transporting, or discharging petroleum, including crude oil and refined petroleum products, illicitly exported or attempted to be exported from Libya,” the new resolution states.

Libya is a major oil producer and exporter, but it has limited refining capacity.

Imported refined products are heavily subsidized, with fuel subsidies estimated to represent more than 10 percent of Libya’s gross domestic product (GDP). Smugglers can make vast profits by re-exporting oil products.

Fuel smuggling is concentrated around the western towns of Zawiya and Zuwara, and across Libya’s western land border with Tunisia.

Both the Zawiya branch of Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) and the local coastguard have been accused of involvement in fuel smuggling, which according to the UN investigators overlaps with lucrative smuggling of migrants from Libya to Italy.

In a report to the Security Council earlier this month, the investigators said they continued to observe “vessels showing suspicious navigational patterns” off Zuwara.

They also cited an attempt to illicitly export 11,500 metric tons of heavy fuel oil from eastern Libya to Malta in February.

The Western diplomat said that Thursday’s resolution was not expected to halt smuggling and that its application would depend on how the UN-backed government in Tripoli, which requested the reference to refined products, chose to use it.

“The only thing that will stop smuggling is the removal of the subsidies,” he said.

UN resolutions recognized the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli as the sole legitimate exporter of oil. They have been used to block attempts by factions in eastern Libya to export crude through a parallel National Oil Corporation based in Benghazi.