Palmali statement with regards to Libyan Navy attack on aframax tanker Baku
Palmali’s head office in Istanbul sent to Maritime Bulletin company’s statement which was published in Malta Times:
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya said yesterday that the Libyan navy prevented the vessel from reaching the port of Es-Sider and that the vessel was in cooperation with an illegal group to load and smuggle crude oil.
“These statements are entirely unfounded,” shipowners Palmali Shipping Services of Istanbul said.
It said that the vessel - the MV Baku - was on a charter to load 80,000 tons of crude oil at a safe port in Libya for an Eastern Mediterranean European port.
On Friday, the charterer nominated Es-Sider as the loading port. On Saturday, the tanker received a message originally sent by NOC officer Abdulbaset O. Zarti declaring Es-Sider as one of three Libyan ports to be 'force majeure ports'. The message was later circulated to the market.
The company said that upon receipt of the message, it ordered the vessel not to proceed to Es-Sider and to remain in international waters.
“We contacted the charterers to inform them of this development and asked them to nominate an alternative loading port. We also informed the NOC that our vessel had been instructed not to proceed to Es-Sider and that she would wait in international waters for a fresh nomination from the charterers.”
But on Sunday afternoon, the ship was approached by a Libyan naval vessel and ordered to proceed to Misurata under threat of fire.
“We immediately contacted the NOC to confirm once more that our vessel had no intention to proceed to Es-Sider. There followed a tense four-hour stand-off during which time we were in constant contact with Mr Abdulbaset and Mr Benkoura (also from the NOC) whilst our vessel remained under the threatening scrutiny of the Libyan naval vessel which also prevented our vessel from heading towards Maltese waters.”
The company said the Libyan authorities requested a further written confirmation that the vessel would not proceed to Es-Sider and this was provided. NOC officers assuring the company that the vessel would be promptly permitted to sail to Malta.
However, not only was this promise not kept, “the Libyan naval vessel continued to circle our vessel threateningly and even fired two shots in an attempt to push our vessel in the direction of Misurata. At this point our vessel's master decided to sail towards Malta at full speed to avoid further illegal intimidation by the Libyan naval forces and a possible escalation.”
The company said these unfortunate incidents occurred in international waters with manifest and total disrespect by the Libyan authorities for the rule of international order.”
Palmali’s aframax Baku fired upon by Libyan Navy
Libyan Navy opened fire on Palmali’s aframax Baku on Jan 5 14 to prevent illegal shipment of crude oil from port of Es Sider, which is controlled by rebels who’re demanding more autonomy from Tripoli. Navy fired warning shots, tanker changed course and fled to Malta. As of morning Jan 8 tanker was anchored off La Valetta. Baku was chartered by a company called Royal Asset Management, Libyan National Oil Corp (NOC) official said.