Bloomberg News

Oil Tanker Sails to Libya as Nation Seeks to Resume Exports

September 12, 2011

(Updates with different cargoes the tanker can carry in second paragraph.)

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- An oil tanker is sailing to the Libyan port of Mellitah, a sign the nation may be resuming energy exports after months of fighting that led to the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, ship-tracking data show.

The Newlead Avra, capable of hauling about 540,000 barrels, signaled earlier today about 30 miles from the Libyan coast, the data compiled by Bloomberg show. The 229-meter (750-foot) vessel is 7.9 meters deep in the water, compared with a maximum draft of 14.45 meters when fully loaded. It can carry crude or refined-oil products, according to Bureau Veritas Group, which monitors ships’ compliance with laws on seaworthiness.

Libya wants to resume crude exports in two to three weeks, Guma El-Gamaty, the U.K. coordinator for the country’s National Transitional Council, said Sept. 8. Shipments from the country, holder of Africa’s biggest oil reserves, plunged during a conflict that escalated in February and led to leader Qaddafi being deposed.

An 80,000 metric-ton cargo of crude was being offered for shipment from Mellitah last week, three people with direct knowledge of the transaction said Sept. 8. The loading is likely the first from the nation’s west since March, said Thomas Zwick, an Oslo-based analyst at Lorentzen & Stemoco AS, a consultant to the shipping industry.

Commercial Officer

The Newlead Avra is on a 12-month charter to Vitol Group and currently has no cargo onboard, according to Sozon Alifragis, the chief commercial officer of Newlead Holdings Ltd., which owns the vessel. A spokesman for Vitol declined to comment.

Libyan crude output slumped to 60,000 barrels a day in July from 1.7 million barrels in January, according to the Paris- based International Energy Agency, which advises 28 industrialized nations.

Operations resumed about two weeks ago at the 120,000 barrel-a-day Zawiyah refinery near the Libyan capital of Tripoli, El-Gamaty said. The plant is processing 30,000 barrels a day and will reach full capacity in six to eight weeks, he said. The crude-export facility in the eastern port city of Tobruk is undamaged, he said.

Libyan crude output increased to as much as 1.87 million barrels a day in 2008 from 1.38 million barrels in 2002, according to U.S. Energy Department data.

--Editors: Stuart Wallace, John Deane

To contact the reporter on this story: Alaric Nightingale in London at anightingal1@bloomberg.net; Michelle Wiese Bockmann in London at mwiesebockma@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net


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