Updated 21 January 2020
The Libyan National Oil Company issued a statement on 18 January 2020 declaring force majeure on oil exports from the ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Marsa El Brega, Zueitina and Marsa El Hariga.
Port situation for internationally trading ships
According to information received from Gard’s local correspondents in Libya, the five oil export terminals across eastern and central Libya were placed under force majeure by Libya’s National Oil Corporation’s (NOC) on 18 January 2020 following closure of the ports by the Libya National Army (LNA). The port situation in Libya as at 21 January 2020 is reported to be as follows:
According to our correspondents, all working ports are currently considered safe for ships and crew. However, our correspondents advise Turkish ships and crews against calling Libya’s Eastern ports controlled by the LNA. In response to Turkey’s support of and cooperation with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), the LNA may stop any Turkish ships transiting the Eastern Libyan maritime boundaries.
The situation could, however, change at short notice and we recommend ship operators to warn their ships’ crews of the volatility of the situation, check with local port authorities as to the port’s status and carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entering or transiting Libyan waters.
Members and clients are advised to instruct their ships to continue to exercise caution when entering Libyan ports and waters. In summary, all ships operating in or near Libyan waters must:
For tankers trading to this region, our correspondents recommend the following:
The above recommendations are in addition to the usual sanctions checks, given that a number of Libyan individuals and entities are subject to international sanctions. Please refer to the “Sanctions” section on Gard’s website for relevant information and advice.
We are grateful to Gargoum Maritime Services and Inspections and Shtewi Legal & Pandi Services for their assistance in the preparation of this update.
The US International Port Security Program
In accordance with the Port Security Advisory (2-19) of 16 May 2019, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has determined that ports in Libya are not maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures. Ships are also advised to “proceed with extreme caution when approaching all Libyan oil terminals, particularly in eastern Libya, due to potential violent and criminal activity based upon recent attempts by armed, non-state actors to engage in illicit export of oil.” The advisory also reminds the shipping industry that UN Security Council Resolution 2146 authorizes the UN Sanctions Committee to impose certain measures on vessels attempting to illicitly export crude oil from Libya and that this resolution imposes several restrictions regarding loading, transporting, or discharging crude oil from Libya which may include the possible denial of port entry.
Under the US Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the USCG is required to assess the effectiveness of antiterrorism measures implemented in foreign ports from which US documented vessels and foreign vessels depart on a voyage to the US and other foreign ports believed to pose a security risk to international maritime commerce. As ports with ineffective antiterrorism measures are identified, this information is published in the Federal Register and the USCG will impose conditions of entry on vessels arriving in the US that visited such ports as one of their last five ports of call. Under the conditions of entry, affected vessels must:
Any affected vessel that does not meet the stipulated conditions may be denied entry into the United States.
The complete list of ports considered to have ineffective antiterrorism measures along with the associated conditions of entry are included in the policy notices available on the US Coast Guard website: International Port Security Programs.