LONDON An Indian-flagged oil tanker is returning to Libya, the North African country's rival oil corporation said on Thursday, after its failed first attempt to export crude oil led to the ship being blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council.
The Distya Ameya tanker is heading to the western Libyan port of Zawiya, said Nagi al-Maghrabi, chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) set up by Libya's rival eastern government in parallel to the Tripoli-based NOC. The Tripoli NOC is recognised internationally as the legitimate seller of Libyan oil.
Magrabi told Reuters he would continue to fight for the right of the eastern NOC to export crude, describing the situation as "a legal issue and we will work on it."
The Tripoli NOC and its international backers say that if the eastern government succeeds in its long-held aim of selling oil independently, it would undermine a U.N.-backed unity government that arrived in Tripoli last month and put the political and economic future of Libya at risk.
The U.N. Security Council Libya sanctions committee blacklisted the Distya Ameya on Wednesday after receiving a request from the Libyan U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi. This requires states to ban it from entering any port.
The ship left Libya's Marsa el-Hariga port late on Monday carrying 650,000 barrels of crude and was currently near Malta. A source close to the situation said the cargo was to be offloaded at Zawiya and processed for use within the country.
Deepak Shetty, director general of shipping with India's Ministry of Shipping, said he had told the vessel's operator and the charterer to instruct the captain not to discharge the cargo "at all, anywhere."
"They will follow the U.N. guidance which will come to them through us," Shetty said. "They are now staying put ... no oil will be discharged even if the charterer wants them to. They will wait for the U.N. to tell us where the vessel will have to go."
However, the U.N. spokesman's office in New York said the U.N. Libya mission was not involved in the issue at all.
Under U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted since 2014 on the illicit export of Libyan oil, it is up to states - not the United Nations - to direct designated vessels "to take appropriate actions to return the crude oil, with the consent of and in coordination with the Government of Libya, to Libya."
(Additional reporting by Nidhi Verma in NEW DELHI, Libby George in London, Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau at the UNITED NATIONS and Aidan Lewis, writing by Jonathan Saul and Michelle Nichols, editing by Dale Hudson and Marguerita Choy)
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