Updated 29 November 2019

Despite recent reports of unrest in Libya’s capital Tripoli, there have been no further changes to the working status of Libyan ports. However, our local correspondents advise Turkish ships and crews in particular, against calling Libya’s Eastern ports.

 

 

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Port situation

According to information received from Gard’s local correspondents in Libya, the port situation in Libya as at 28 November 2019 is reported to be as follows:

  • Working: Farwah, Bouri, Melittah, Zawia, Tripoli, Al Khoms, Misurata, Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Marsa El Brega, Zueitina, Benghazi, Tobruk and Marsa El Hariga
  • Closed: Sirte and Derna

According to our correspondents, all working ports are currently considered safe for ships and crew. The situation is, however, subject to change and ship operators are advised to warn their ships’ crews of the volatility of the situation and to carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entering or transiting Libyan waters.

Our correspondents also advise Turkish ships and crews against calling Libya’s Eastern ports controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA). In response to Turkey’s support of and cooperation with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord, the LNA has announced that it cuts all ties with Turkey and will treat all Turkish commercial flights or ships trying to enter Libya as hostile (source: Reuters). 

Recommendations

Members and clients are advised to instruct their ships to continue to exercise caution when entering Libyan ports and waters. At the time of writing, NAVAERA III warning 225/2016 remains in force and recommends that all ships in or near the militarised area south of 34°00’N should also report their position to the nearest Coastal Station in order to receive a safe track-line.

 

In summary, all ships operating in or near Libyan waters must:

  • adhere to the international laws of trading, follow the official sea navigation routes to any of the working Libyan ports and avoid navigating in the coastal waters of the closed ports;
  • declare the intended voyage and type of cargo to be discharged/loaded to the local agent well in advance of arrival at any Libyan port to allow the agent sufficient time to notify the appropriate authorities; and
  • otherwise stay in close contact with local port authorities, ship’s agent or Gard’s local correspondent to obtain the most up to date and reliable information available at any given time.

For tankers trading to this region, our correspondents recommend the following:

  • When contracting your vessel for a voyage to Libya, obtain a certificate of origin from the charterers indicating that the shippers are indeed the National Oil Company (NOC) or an approved legal entity of the NOC. The Libyan NOC has the sole rights and control of all oil exports from the country.
  • Charterers should establish the legitimacy of cargo interests and whether they can legitimately ship oil cargoes from Libya. The shippers should be able to provide a letter or document to prove that they are authorized by the NOC to ship the cargo.

Tankers delivering fuel oil to Libya, should, on completion of cargo operations and upon receiving port clearance, sail directly out of Libyan waters without deviation or delay as such deviations or delays may be deemed as suspicious by the authorities

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:

  • implement measures as per the ship’s security plan equivalent to security level 2 while in port in Libya;
  • ensure that each access point to the ship is guarded and that the guards have total visibility of the exterior (both landside and waterside) of the vessel while it is in port in Libya;
  • attempt to execute a declaration of security while in port in Libya;
  • log all security actions in the ship’s security records; and
  • report the actions taken to the relevant Coast Guard captain of the port prior to arrival in US waters.

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