Saturday, June 30

1st EP. - THE GREAT PUPPETEERS OF THE LIBYAN TRAGEDY

LAST GADAFI's TIME FEBRUAR 22, 2011
Glencore is keeping the marketing rights for the Sarir and Messla crude grades for a third year even though BP and Shell are returning to lift Libyan oil in a sign the country’s industry is perceived as becoming more reliable. One source familiar with the matter said Libya’s state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) had allocated its 2018 crude and that the contracts would be signed next week. 

With production having steadied at around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) since the middle of last year, Libya, beset by factional fighting, has become a less unstable supplier. However, supply risks remain. One pipeline bringing Es Sider crude to export was recently bombed but swiftly repaired. BP and Shell declined to comment. Spokesmen for Glencore and the NOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Last August, Shell directly lifted its first cargo of Libyan crude in five years).

Since the end of 2015, Glencore has been the sole marketer of the Sarir and Messla grades, which are produced in the east of the country and exported via the Hariga port. Glencore was one of the few traders willing to deal with the risks associated with Libya’s unrest, Islamic State intrusions and a crippling port blockade that slashed the country’s output.

Earlier this month, the NOC said it was seeking a prompt restart of the country’s largest refinery at Ras Lanuf, following a resolution to arbitration cases with its operator, Lerco. The refinery, closed since 2013, runs on the grades allocated to Glencore. It was not immediately clear when the refinery would resume operations or what would happen to Glencore’s allocation once it does. 

NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co produces the Sarir and Messla grades. Output has been fluctuating between around 150,000 and 230,000 bpd, its chairman said in early January, below its potential 320,000 bpd owing to power problems.

Other contract winners include Vitol, Total, Unipec, OMV, BB Energy, ENI, API, Cepsa, Socar and Repsol, trading and shipping sources said, largely unchanged from 2017 to June, 2018.

-Shell and BP have agreed annual deals to buy Libyan crude oil. Sources told the news agency that Shell’s deal is the first of its kind since 2013, and that the first cargo of 600,000 barrels will start to be loaded from Zueitina port.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation EAST (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.

Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdus Salam al Badri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) held a series of meetings with a group of global refineries in the Mediterranean area and with a major oil companies last week in London. The first meeting was with BP, followed by meetings with more than 20 partners, customers, Libyan crude refiners and fuel suppliers. BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The newly-created National Oil Corporation (NOC) loyal to the internationally recognised government in the east of Libya has reportedly invited international oil companies (IOCs) to “discuss legally signed agreements and contracts” at a conference in Dubai next month.

-The Tobruk government set up the rival company – ‘NOC East’ – in Benghazi, but oil buyers are still dealing only with the established NOC in Tripoli. According to Reuters, oil customers have refused to sign any deal with the eastern entity due to legal concerns as geological data to prove ownership of oil reserves are stored at NOC Tripoli. The invitation to a conference on 2nd September was issued by Naji al-Maghrabi, who was recently appointed chairman of the eastern NOC.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.  Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdussalam Elbadri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, Nagi al-Magrabi, told Bloomberg: “We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognized and legal government. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.” Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said that any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action.

-Libya’s internationally recognised government has warned companies against dealing with the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Speaking to a press conference of Beida, the head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Abdullah al-Thinni (pictured), said his government is taking further steps to export crude oil from the regions under its control through its locally recognized “NOC”, and away from the Tripoli-based organisation.

-The chairman of the pro-HoR “NOC”, Mabruk Abu Yousef Maraja, warned of the illegality or illegitimacy of dealing with the NOC in Tripoli. He also warned Tripoli not to enter into any contracts or legal actions that would impose any obligations on the Libyan oil sector.

-National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Nuri Berruien [Nuri Balrwin] (pictured), has confirmed that there are to be no new exploration-production sharing agreements (EPSAs) before mid-2014. Answering questions at the end of a conference in London, he added that this would probably be “during a constitutional government”, implying that the current “interim” government is not deemed constitutional enough or does not have the authority or legitimacy to launch an EPSA bidding round, according to Libya Herald. He added that he hoped for a “win-win” situation for both the NOC and the international oil companies, admitting that the current EPSAs had problems for both parties and hoped that the new EPSAs would “encourage long-term development”.

Glencore oil deal in Libya branded worthless by rival government. Internationally recognised regime in Benghazi says commodity firm’s potentially lucrative oil-export deal in Tripoli is with the wrong people. 

Glencore’s deal to export Libyan oil is not worth the paper it is printed on, the commodities company has been told. The Switzerland-based firm agreed last week to buy up to half of Libya’s oil exports from the western division of the National Oil Company in Tripoli, where an Islamist-backed government is based. But the internationally recognised government in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, said Glencore had signed a deal with the wrong people

Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern division of the National Oil Company, told Bloomberg that he had written to Glencore asking for an explanation but not yet received a reply. He said that if Glencore had signed a deal with the parallel regime in Tripoli, the Benghazi government could physically prevent Glencore tankers from using Libyan ports. 

The deal in question envisages Glencore loading and finding buyers for crude oil from the Sarir and Messla fields, exported via Tobruk’s Marsa el-Hariga port in the east. The eastern government says it does not recognise any agreement signed with Tripoli.

Finding a way to resolve the impasse could prove particularly lucrative for Glencore, given that Libya’s oil exports have huge potential to increase. Libya was pumping about 1.6m barrels of oil a day before the civil war that ended Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011. 

Production has since slumped to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, although it could be increased if the security situation in Libya improves. Glencore regularly invests in countries where security risks and political turmoil have deterred other investors, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia

However, the company is in need of new sources of income, after the economic slowdown in China prompted a slump in global commodity prices, ravaging its share price. The company floated its shares at £5.30 in 2011 but they have since plunged, closing on Monday at 90.42p. 

The firm announced proposals earlier this year to raise £6.6bn in an effort to allay investors’ fears about its £20bn debt pile. The plan includes mine closures, asset sales and a £1.6bn share-placing but has yet to arrest the decline in Glencore’s stock. Glencore declined to comment on its dealings in Libya


Friday, June 29

CHINA EATS WHOLE AFRICA! WHAT ABOUT WEST POLICY?


LIBYA 2011-TOP SECRET ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBING LYBIA

RAF aircraft bombed a key intelligence building in TRIPOLI and breached the walls of COLONEL GEDDAFI's command complex this weekend, and inflicted further losses on pro-Gaddafi forces massed at Zlitan and Gharyan.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 24 July, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft conducted a precision strike on the Central Organisation for Electronic Research (COER). Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:

Ostensibly an engineering academy, the COER has, in reality, long been a cover for the regime’s nefarious activities. Up until Colonel Gaddafi’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, the COER was responsible for his long-range missile development programme.

Intensive surveillance by NATO over the past weeks revealed that the building was still being actively used by his security apparatus to repress the civilian population, and was thus a wholly legitimate target.

Also on Sunday morning, other RAF jets successfully attacked two staging posts near Zlitan being used to muster tanks, rocket artillery and ammunition. Later that afternoon, an armed reconnaissance patrol located and destroyed a regime main battle tank near Gharyan, on the edge of the Djebel Nafousa, south of Tripoli.

On Saturday, 23 July, RAF aircraft used precision guided weapons to breach the walls of Colonel Gaddafi’s command complex in central Tripoli.

General Pope said:

Gaddafi has for decades hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls. The vast Bab al-Aziziya compound is not just his personal residence, but, more importantly, is also the main headquarters for his regime, with command and control facilities and an army barracks all part of the same fortified site.

Successive NATO strikes in past weeks have inflicted extensive damage on the military facilities within.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft, supported by allied aircraft, struck the high perimeter walls of the compound, which have for so long been such an unwelcome symbol to the people of Tripoli of Gaddafi’s despotic rule.

Paveway guided bombs scored direct hits in thirteen different places on both the outer and inner perimeter walls along the western side of Bab al-Aziziya. As ever, particular care was taken to ensure no civilian traffic on nearby roads was endangered.

Also on Saturday, RAF jets on patrol near Zlitan successfully struck four buildings which NATO surveillance missions had confirmed were being used as a command and control centre and a staging post for regime troops being mustered for attacks on the people of Libya.

Armed reconnaissance patrols continued in the area throughout the day, and, during Saturday night, RAF aircraft were able to conduct a precision strike on a large ammunition stockpile. In addition, HMS Ocean launched her Army Apache helicopters against a number of military positions between Zlitan and Al Khums, which were successfully engaged using Hellfire missiles.

On Thursday afternoon, 21 July, RAF aircraft patrolling near Zlitan identified and destroyed a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. During the night, British Army Apache helicopters once again launched a strike mission from HMS Ocean, while other NATO aircraft provided overwatch.

Two buildings being used by regime troops at Al Khums were damaged by Hellfire missiles. This strike was followed up by NATO fixed-wing aircraft in the early hours of Friday morning; RAF jets hit six ammunition storage facilities near Zlitan, and a large building that was being used as a base for multiple rocket launchers threatening Misurata.

In addition, one deployed rocket launcher and two armed trucks were destroyed.

On Friday afternoon, 22 July, further RAF armed reconnaissance patrols successfully engaged one of Gaddafi’s tanks and another armed truck, again near Zlitan.

Throughout these operations, NATO tanker and surveillance assets provided essential support, including RAF VC10, Tristar, Sentry and Sentinel aircraft.

At sea, the frigate HMS Iron Duke has been relieved on station by her sister ship HMS Sutherland. HMS Bangor continues to provide NATO’s maritime task group with a vital mine countermeasures capability, ready to respond to any attempts by the regime to again lay mines off Misurata port.

Since the start of military operations to enforce UNSCR 1973, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps precision strikes have destroyed over 710 regime targets engaged in the repression of the Libyan people.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, to enforce UNSCR 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and Tristar air-to-air refuelling tankers, based in Sicily, Cyprus and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft, based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Ocean (helicopter carrier)
HMS Sutherland (Type 23 frigate)
HMS Bangor (Sandown class minehunter)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Rosalie
British Army Apache attack helicopters
Fleet Air Arm Sea King helicopters (Airborne Surveillance and Area Control role).
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Royal Air Force aircraft yesterday participated in a long-range mission, targeting a military vehicle depot at a former regime compound located near SEBHA.

As Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR continued to provide protection for the Libyan people, the RAF flew a formation of Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk, south across Europe, to rendezvous with the other allied aircraft in the strike package, before firing a large salvo of Storm Shadow precision guided stand-off missiles.

Our aircraft recovered to Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy and will return to Marham in due course.

Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:

This mission has once again demonstrated NATO’s ability and resolve to reach deep into Libya to target those elements of the former regime who persist in their attempts to oppress the Libyan people.

NATO also maintained its armed reconnaissance patrols over all areas of potential continuing conflict, and, in the course of these, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft observed multiple rocket launchers in action near Sirte. Paveway and Brimstone attacks accounted for one of the rocket launchers and an armed pick-up truck.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and TriStar air-to-air refuelling tankers based in Sicily and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Ocean (helicopter carrier)
HMS Liverpool (Type 42 destroyer)
HMS Bangor (Sandown Class minehunter)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Fort Rosalie
British Army Apache attack helicopters
Fleet Air Arm Sea King helicopters (Airborne Surveillance and Area Control role).
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

RAF aircraft have struck further targets in SIRTE and Bani Walid over recent days as NATO continues operations over Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973.

NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR has maintained an air presence over those areas of Libya where conflict continues, particularly Bani Walid and Sirte, with RAF aircraft still making a significant contribution.

On Thursday evening, an armed reconnaissance patrol of Tornado GR4s identified one of Colonel Gaddafi’s main battle tanks near Bani Walid and destroyed the vehicle with a Brimstone precision guided missile.

During the course of Friday afternoon, two formations of RAF Tornados conducted strikes against a firing position and supply point which had been located by NATO surveillance analysis within the area of Sirte. Eight Paveway guided bombs were successfully dropped by our aircraft onto the target.

RAF jets were again tasked by NATO to conduct a precision strike on a vehicle supply point in Sirte on Saturday and struck their target accurately with four Paveway guided bombs.

Our aircraft also continued to play an active part in the patrols over Bani Walid, and on Sunday morning they spotted two armed pick-up trucks being used by former regime forces to fire on a civilian compound.

Brimstone missiles were able to destroy both vehicles without any collateral damage to surrounding property. A follow-up patrol later in the day located a third armed truck in the vicinity of Bani Walid and destroyed it with a Paveway bomb.

Royal Navy ships meanwhile maintain their patrols off the Libyan coast, with HMS Liverpool providing security and reassurance to merchant shipping as the ports and harbours liberated by the new Libyan authorities seek to return to normal operation.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR to enforce UNSCRs 1970 and 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and TriStar air-to-air refuelling tankers based in Sicily and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Liverpool (Type 42 destroyer)
HMS Bangor (Sandown Class minehunter)
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.





Wednesday, June 27

MACEDONIA AND ALBANIA? YES - MONTENEGRO? NO!

Macedonian and Albanian leaders on Wednesday 27 welcomed the decision by European ministers to give a conditional green light to their EU accession talks.

“There will be sweat, tears and many disappointments but we will succeed!” Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov wrote on Facebook.

“Now we will climb a mountain road, narrow and steep, marred by rain and ghastly wind, but we will succeed,” he added.

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said it was great news for the country and offered a major “motivation” for achieving a “European Macedonia”.

After a long debate on Tuesday among the bloc's European affairs ministers, it was decided that Albania and Macedonia’s EU accession talks will start in June next year, dependent on certain conditions being fulfilled.

The unexpected outcome, despite broad EU support, showed French President Emmanuel Macron’s determination to postpone the decision until after European Parliament elections in May, for fear of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, diplomats said.

It also puts a brake on the momentum Germany and EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker had sought in the Western Balkans to counter Russian influence by offering six countries a path to EU membership.

EU governments will “set out the path towards accession negotiations in June 2019” for Macedonia and Albania, according to a document agreed by the bloc’s 28 Europe ministers at what diplomats said was a long, fraught meeting in Luxembourg.

“It was a very difficult birth,” Germany’s EU minister Michael Roth said of the compromise decision.

Germany, Austria, Sweden, Slovakia and many other EU countries had hoped for an agreement on Tuesday that would give clear approval for membership talks to start. EU leaders were due to have signed off at a summit on Thursday in Brussels.

Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia all hope to join the EU.

Membership talks are already underway with Serbia and Montenegro. Albania, which is NATO member, and Macedonia, which has reached an agreement to resolve a dispute over its name with Greece, had won the support of the European Commission, which recommended that membership talks be opened.

Even with the delay, Macedonia’s deputy prime minister for European Affairs, Bujar Osmani, said on Twitter his country was now “on the path to open the accession negotiations next June”.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama also hailed the ministers’ decision “after 72 hours of stormy debate” as a victory. “The results of our huge reforms finally led even the sceptics to accept that Albania and Macedonia are ready to negotiate,” Rama tweeted in English.

However, opposition leader Lulzim Basha said Albania would be turned away in a year if it did not fight crime and corruption.

COUNTERING CORRUPTION
Macron, backed by the Netherlands, has said the bloc must first reform itself before taking on new members, although EU diplomats say Paris is mainly concerned about anti-immigrant sentiment at home.

The rushed accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 and the poorly managed migration of eastern European workers to Britain, which turned many Britons against the European project, have made EU enlargement more difficult, officials say.

The Dutch parliament has approved opening EU membership talks with Macedonia after the agreement with Greece to change the country’s official name to Republic of North Macedonia. But the Dutch government was unwilling to move before France, diplomats said.

In their statement, EU ministers said both Albania and Macedonia needed to do more on judicial reforms, corruption and organised crime. Depending on progress next June and another report by the Commission, which oversees membership talks, EU governments could formally open negotiations by the end of next year.

Both countries have to show “a track record both in improving the rule of law and fighting organised crime”, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told reporters.

Many European countries, including Austria which will chair the EU rotating presidency from July, want to send a signal to Albania, Macedonia and other Western Balkan countries that the way to EU membership is still is open, especially as Macedonia looks set to be welcomed into the NATO alliance in July.Albanian PM Edi Rama said that "after 72 hours of stormy debate" the decision comes as a victory.

Albania and Macedonia hope the decision will clear the way for approval by EU leaders at a summit on June 28-29. EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said after the meeting that the decision was a “key signal to the region that progress is rewarded”.

While most of the EU's member states supported opening the accession talks immediately, France and the Netherlands opposed the move, saying they first wanted to see Macedonia and Albania sustain their reforms.

The two countries were given several key conditions to meet before starting the talks. They include judicial reforms, active investigations and verdicts in high-level corruption cases, reforms in the intelligence and security sectors and public administration reform.

Arguably the most important condition for Macedonia is the implementation of the recent ‘name’ deal with Greece, under which the country should change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.