The Maltese government last Wednesday (March 23/11) intervened to stop a Libya-bound Malta flagged vessel laden with fuel ordered by the Gaddafi regime , The Sunday Times has learnt. The MV Breeze, a Greek managed tanker, was contacted and stopped by the Maltese authorities on route to the Libyan port town of Zawiyah.
The vessel had been loaded with some 25,000 tons of gasoline 95 – a refined fuel – at the Greek refinery Motor Oil (Hellas), after receiving an order from the Brega Petroleum Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the Libyan National Oil Company, which is on the UN sanctions list.
Sources said payment for the shipment is likely to have been made in cash.
Maltese port authorities notified the ship management that it was banned from carrying such cargo to Libya under the UN sanctions approved last month, and the vessel turned back to Greece immediately.
Last Friday, the ship was berthed 150km from the Greek city of Piraeus.
Sources said the government came under significant pressure from multiple sources within the Gaddafi regime in recent days to allow the vessel to proceed to Libya. But it held firm, pointing out the shipment violated UN sanctions.
Ironically, the oil rich regime has been suffering from severe fuel shortages with no access to the product at its many refineries, either because of damage to their infrastructure or because they were captured by the rebels.
The Maltese government has now referred the case to the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee, which will review the incident.
When contacted, a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said he could not comment at this stage. However, he said the government was committed to observing and implementing the UN resolution and EU-imposed restrictions on Libya.
The news comes after anti-Gaddafi protesters in Malta tried to stop the Turkish-owned Mubariz Ibrahimov oil tanker from leaving the port, which they said was being loaded with fuel destined to Libya.
The protesters attempted to obtain an injunction to prevent the vessel leaving, but it was eventually given permission to depart after it was certified empty.
Source: Times of Malta / Sunday, 27th March 2011 – 08:42CET