Fuel smuggling is costing Libya about $750 million a year, the head of the country’s National Oil Corporation said on Wednesday.
Mustafa Sanalla in a speech delivered in Geneva said about 30 to 40 percent of fuel produced and imported by Libya is stolen or smuggled.
He called on the European Union naval mission to combat smugglers by seizing their ships in the Mediterranean, adding that the United Nations should consider sanctioning smugglers, and urged Libya to reform massive subsidies that allow fuel to be sold for as little as 2-3 U.S. cents per liter.
“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,” Sanalla told an inaugural Oil and Fuel Theft conference in Geneva.
He also urged international institutions such as Interpol to aid domestic agencies in breaking up smuggling rings in the country.
Libya, holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves and an OPEC member, is already reeling from political divisions that have slashed oil production.
Sanalla noted that Smugglers have “permeated” some fuel distribution companies as well as the militias currently vying for control of the country.
The issue is “destroying the fabric of the country,” he said. “The huge sums of money available from smuggling have corrupted large parts of Libyan society,” he said.
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: https://t.co/UKTKSxdY3k pic.twitter.com/ZaihwU4RdS
— Arab News (@arabnews) April 19, 2018
He called for the mandate of the EU’s naval mission, Operation Sophia, to be extended to combat the smuggling of refined fuel as well as oil, adding that much of the illegal activity could be traced by radar or satellite.