Mustafa Sanalla (pictured), Chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), used a keynote speech to the global oil industry to demand a series of measures be taken to save the industry and his country from the significant economic and societal damage wreaked by endemic fuel smuggling.
To an audience of industry experts at the inaugural Oil and Fuel Theft Summit in Geneva, Sanalla underlined how widely Libya has become affected by organised fuel smuggling, saying it costs the economy over $750 million per annum.
He went further to explain the societal damage this illegal behaviour is causing, not just in terms of lost revenue, but more seriously the loss of respect of the rule of law.
Sanalla thanked Libyan bodies such as the Libyan Attorney General’s Office, the efforts of the NOC itself to stamp out corruption; and international bodies such as US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Italian government for their assistance against a major international smuggling network.
He called upon Libyan institutions and authorities, and the international community such as Interpol, CEPOL and EuroPol, to act on a series of measures that can disable and dismantle smuggling networks.
The proposed new anti-smuggling policy measures include introducing fuel marking systems to aid Libyan and international law enforcers capture evidence of smuggling or theft; encouraging the international community to enact sanctions and asset seizures against criminals so that illicit gains are returned to the Libyan people; expanding the mandate of Operation Sophia to include refined fuels as well as crude oil; working with the Attorney General’s office to secure prosecutions of those responsible; and encouraging relevant authorities in Libya to consider a reform on the subsidy system, which is not delivering towards its goals – instead accruing profits for criminals:
“The impact of fuel smuggling is destroying the fabric of the country. The fuel smugglers and thieves have permeated not only the militias which control much of Libya, but also some fuel distribution companies which are supposed to bring cheap fuel to Libyan citizens. The huge sums of money available from smuggling have corrupted parts of Libyan society.”
“With the profits available, the few actions which have been taken to date have not been enough to create a major disincentive for the fuel smugglers. And that is why I am taking this opportunity today to announce a major new strategy to combat fuel smuggling in Libya.
"And I am calling on those present at this conference, on Libya’s friends and neighbours, but above all on the Libyan people themselves, to do everything they can to support it and to eradicate the scourge of fuel theft and fuel smuggling.”