Libya Ports Update

Applicability: Shipowners and Charterers

Members may have read recent news reports of efforts to reconcile the Libya’s rival governments in order to stabilise Libya. This comes amid reports of increasing ISIS influence and advances in Libya.

This update serves to remind members that the situation in Libya remains very volatile and that any vessel which calls at Libya must ensure that safety remains paramount.

Members may also be aware of the reported attacks on merchant ships this year – MT Araevo on 4 January 2015 near Derna, the MV Tuna 1 in May near Derna and the MT Anwar Afriqya also in May near Sirte. Historically, foreign vessels appear to face the risk of attacks if they are believed to be carrying arms or supplies for the rival group.

The development

It has been reported recently that Libyan jihadists have seized and claimed Sirte for ISIS. Sirte is located some 450 km from Tripoli and 200 km from Misurata (AKA Misrata).

Fights have turned into three-way battles in some areas with ISIS against both the internationally-recognised government based in Tobruk and the unrecognised government based in Tripoli.

Although efforts by ISIS are land-based, they are said to be seeking control of the Libyan oil ports and terminals.


According to our correspondents, the ports of Tripoli, Tobruk and Misurata/Misrata remain open and are said to be operating. Benghazi port remains closed. However please note the further comments below on each port.

The port is said to be closed. The official government does not appear to have full control of the city and fighting is frequent. It was reported recently that disease may break out due to imported meat left rotting in containers at the closed port.

The port is reported to be open. However in January this year, the Libyan Air Force (backing the internationally-recognised government) issued a notice that vessels approaching this port would be subject to airstrikes. This notice does not appear to have been retracted.

The port is said to be open. However it is in control of the rival government which is not internationally recognised. Although it has been claimed that the port is operating, it remains difficult to verify this information.

The port is said to be operating.

Ras Lanuf
Officials affiliated with the Tripoli-based government have said that the oil terminal is open. However Libyan forces affiliated with the internationally-recognised government have said that vessels calling to load oil at Ras Lanuf terminal will be arrested.

As per our previous updates and advisories, other issues for members to consider when calling at Libya are:

  1. Certain sanctions in Libya are still in place – these are mostly directed against individuals and companies connected with the previous regime. Members will want to check that parties involved are not listed or linked to any such entities or persons on the EU and US sanctions lists.
  2. The US has imposed further conditions for entry into the US for vessels which are arriving or which have visited Libyan ports.
  3. The likelihood of encountering distressed persons at sea has increased near Libyan waters, due to the increase in migrants and the worsening situation in Syria and Libya. As such, members will need their onshore staff and the vessel’s crew to be clear on their obligations and procedures should such this occur or if the vessel is called to assist in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.
  4. ISPS – Members calling at Libyan ports should consider working at Security Level 2.

Members can refer to the Association’s previous advisories and updates for more detailed information.

As the situation is still developing and remains volatile, the Association would recommend seeking the latest information possible from all sources whenever a call to a Libyan port is contemplated.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

The Association is grateful to its correspondents Germa Shipping & Stevedoring Co. in Libya for continuing to provide information on the Libyan ports.

Janice Choy, Claims Executive Skuld Singapore

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