Tanker Loading in Libya Signals Crude Supply Still Moving

A tanker loaded 600,000 barrels of crude at two Libyan ports and set sail today, suggesting supply is still flowing from Africa’s third-biggest producer.

The Seabravery picked up the oil at the ports of Zawia and Es Sider and sailed at 1 a.m. local time, according to Dimitris Tsahalis, chartering manager at Athens-based Thenamaris Ships Management Inc., which owns the vessel. Brent crude oil futures jumped as much as 3.5 percent to $109.45 a barrel today, partly on speculation the conflict will disrupt exports.

Operations at Libyan oil ports are suspended, Al Arabiya television reported yesterday. Libya declared force majeure on all oil-product exports, a legal clause allowing companies to miss contractual obligations because of circumstances beyond their control, Reuters reported yesterday.

“Loading went normally, there was no abnormality,” Tsahalis said by phone.

Libya pumps 1.6 million barrels a day, exporting most of its crude and fuel across the Mediterranean to Europe, according to Bloomberg estimates. That’s about 1.8 percent of world oil supply. It is Africa’s third-largest oil producer after Nigeria and Angola. Libya’s 44.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves are the largest deposit in Africa and 3.3 percent of the global total, according to BP Plc.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi yesterday said the nation’s ports and airports were closed because of the escalating violence. An oil facility at Ras Lanuf operated by Harouge Oil Operations was running normally, an official at the company’s movement department said yesterday.

Cargo Ports

CMA CGM SA, the world’s third-largest container shipping line, said its vessels aren’t calling at the ports of Benghazi, Misurata, Khoms and Tripoli. The company, which is represented by agent OSCL locally, created an emergency response team to monitor the situation, it said in an e-mailed statement.

“CMA CGM continues to accept bookings to Libya, excluding reefer and hazardous cargo bookings that are temporarily suspended until further notice,” the company said. Reefers means refrigerated cargo ships.

Benghazi and Misurata handle cargoes including livestock, chemicals, iron ore and grain, according to marfamar.com, the website of Al-Marfa Shipping & Maritime Services Co. About 600 ships sail to Tripoli a year, it says.

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