March 8 (Bloomberg) -- A tanker docked at a rebel-held Libyan port used for oil exports as insurgents seek to ship out crude, undermining the central government’s efforts to assert control over the nation’s biggest revenue source.
The vessel that called at Es Sider flew the North Korean flag and was protected by gunmen, the state-run Lana news agency reported today, citing a National Oil Co. official. The self-declared government of east Libya held a ceremony at Es Sider, the country’s largest oil port, broadcast on regional news networks. Libyan authorities threatened to bomb the ship, Al Arabiya television reported, without saying how it obtained the information.
“This is an act of piracy,” Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman at the state-run NOC, told the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television in an interview. He said the tanker was owned by a Saudi company he didn’t name.
Oil production in Libya has plunged since the end of July, when four crude-exporting sites in the nation’s east including Es Sider were shut by forces led by Ibrahim Al Jedran, a former commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard. The insurgency underscores the struggle to restore order after the armed revolt that ended Muammar al-Qaddafi’s four-decade rule in 2011.
The docking is a “violation of Libya’s sovereignty,” Lana quoted the official at NOC as saying. The company has informed the defense ministry and the chief of staff of the armed forces, Elharari told local television channel Al Nabaa.
Elharari identified the tanker as the Morning Glory, while ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed a vessel called Gulf Glory bound for Es Sider as of March 6. There were no further sightings of the ship as of noon London time today.
Libya’s coast guard prevented a tanker from loading at oil ports controlled by the self-declared government of east Libya earlier this month, Elharari said March 6. The country’s daily crude production came to 238,000 barrels, he also said that day. That compares with about 1.4 million barrels a day before the ports were closed.
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