Trading house Vitol has lifted a a cargo of naphtha from the rebel-held port of Tobruk in east Libya, traders providing the opposition with much needed funds to fight government forces.
The cargo was loaded at Tobruk aboard a 60,000 tonne carrier at the end of April and sailed for delivery to an undisclosed buyer in the East.
“I was looking at buying some Tobruk, but they took it East,” said a naphtha trader.
Vitol declined to comment. Industry sources say that funds to pay for the cargo could have been channelled to the rebels via intermediaries in Qatar or Kuwait. Earlier this week, a member of the oil and gas support group for Libya told Reuters that payments were being processed through a bank account in Qatar, Reuters reports.
Western powers have been struggling to overcome legal hurdles in order to finance Libya’s rebels, who are becoming increasingly desperate for supplies including food, medicine and fuel.
Oil exports have been cited as one way of overcoming the legal risks involved, but poor security and worries about international sanctions are a powerful deterrent.
Vitol succeeded in shipping the first major crude oil cargo out of rebel-held Libya over a month ago and eventually sold it to a Chinese buyer, according to industry sources.
But with many of the usual traders still worried about legal complications, finding a buyer had been troublesome.
Aside from Vitol, the only other company known to have attempted to export crude from Libya failed after the tanker was thought to have been denied access to crude stocks.
A tanker booked for Italian oil company Eni to carry crude to Italy from its own fields in Gaddafi-held territory in Libya was forced last month to turn back within kilometres of the Libyan port, leaving empty.