Oil theft ‘costing Libya over $750m annually’

A general view of the industrial zone at the oil port of Ras Lanuf can be seen in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Oil theft ‘costing Libya over $750m annually’

  • Libya’s oil sector collapsed in the wake of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
  • The recovery of oil production and exports is key to restoring Libya’s economy.

Tripoli: Fuel smuggling is costing Libya more than $750 million each year and harming its economy and society, the head of the National Oil Company in the conflict-riddled country said.
“The impact of fuel smuggling is destroying the fabric of the country,” NOC president Mustafa Sanalla said according to the text of a speech delivered on Wednesday at a conference on oil and fuel theft in Geneva.
“The fuel smugglers and thieves have permeated not only the militias which control much of Libya, but also the fuel distribution companies which are supposed to bring cheap fuel to Libyan citizens,” he said.
“The huge sums of money available from smuggling have corrupted large parts of Libyan society,” he added.
The backbone of the North African country’s economy, Libya’s oil sector collapsed in the wake of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Before the revolt Libya, with estimated oil reserves of 48 billion barrels, used to produce 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd).
But output fell to less than 500,000 bpd between 2014 and 2016 due to violence around production facilities and export terminals as rival militias fought for control of Africa’s largest crude reserves.
No oil was exported from Libya’s main ports until September 2016 with the reopening of the Ras Lanuf terminal in the country’s so-called oil crescent.
The recovery of oil production and exports is key to restoring Libya’s moribund economy.
Sanalla urged Libya’s “friends, neighbors but above all the Libyan people themselves... to do everything they can... to eradicate the scourge of fuel theft and fuel smuggling.”


China denies setting target to cut US trade surplus

Updated 18 min 52 sec ago
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China denies setting target to cut US trade surplus

BEIJING: China said Thursday it has not set a target to cut its trade surplus with the US but will seek to increase imports after the two sides stepped back from a potential trade war.
Officials from Beijing were reported to have offered to slash the country’s huge surplus by $200 billion during high-level talks last week — meeting a key Washington demand — by ramping up imports from the US.
That was followed on Monday by President Donald Trump tweeting that China will buy “massive amounts” of additional American agriculture products.
But commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng denied that any figure was set during negotiations in Washington, which ended with the two countries agreeing to back off imposing tit-for-tat tariffs, though few details were revealed.
“China did not make any commitment on the specific amount of reduction of trade surplus with the US,” Gao told a regular news briefing.
“China will actively encourage companies to increase imports of US commodities and services according to market principles” and its own economic and consumption needs, Gao said.
“The two sides are willing to further strengthen cooperation in fields including agricultural products, energy, medical treatment, high-tech industry and finance.”
Both sides have extended olive branches since the weekend, with China announcing on Tuesday that it will cut auto import tariffs from July 1.
And Trump said his administration could impose a new fine of as much as $1.3 billion on embattled Chinese telecom company ZTE to replace crippling sanctions imposed last month that threatened to put the firm out of business.
However, there are concerns about Sunday’s agreement after Trump said he was “not satisfied” with it.