OIL-SMUGGLING-LIBYA-ARAB-WORLD-NEWS-EASTERN-HERALD
PHOTO Courtesy Floriane Fischer, Public Eye

The state of the health system in Libya, which has always been effective, is now in a very critical situation. Several hospitals were closed, and the situation of other hospitals became difficult due to their destruction, lack of experienced medical staff, and shortages of medicines and basic equipment, especially insulin and dialysis equipment. Hala Bugaighis, Senior Researcher, Consultant and the Co-Founder at Jusoor Center for Studies and Development, confirmed: “ The health situation in this country is not surprising in a country where two health ministers are affiliated with two different governments fighting over power, while the new government does not do anything because it needs a high budget to restore the hospitals, but this hope does not exist because state funds are smuggled through oil”.

Many hospitals in Libya used to employ foreign nurses, but most of them left due to the war against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the armed conflict between supporters and enemies of political Islam. Médecins Sans Frontières and Jusoor are providing donations of essential medicines to these still operating hospitals. In eastern Libya, we are facing the same problem: a shortage of trained staff and a shortage of medicines in hospitals. We also provide similar support in hospitals receiving the wounded.  In the city of Benghazi, where jihadist forces and the national army of the Tobruk government are facing each other, Doctors without Borders provides medicines to three hospitals. At the Benghazi Medical Center, WHO staff will organize training on emergency response. As a result of the fighting that began in 2014 in the city of Benghazi, the city’s hospitals received more than a hundred wounded. Other wounded were taken to Al-Marj and Al-Abyar hospitals in eastern Benghazi, with which MSF is cooperating.

In addition, Libya is experiencing a displacement crisis where people are fleeing violence. Benghazi alone receives more than 100,000 displaced people. The lack of immunization coverage and the rise in maternal mortality appear as additional repercussions of the health crisis in Libya. Therefore, WHO provides vaccines to health centers located in the eastern and western regions?

A critical problem facing Libya’s health care system is the lack of primary health care facilities, such as local clinics and district hospitals. The government spends 3.3% of its GDP on health care.

PopulationPeople AffectedPeople in needPeople in need Health SectorPeople in acute health need
7,400,0002,470,0001,250,0001,195,3891,010,000

However, due to the lack of an overall long-term health care strategy, health care expenditure is often non-targeted and inconsistent.

How Recovered Assets Can Strengthen the Healthcare Sector in Libya

end 1999end 2009end 2018end 2019end 2019end 2019end 2019
Thousand Million BarrelsThousand Million BarrelsThousand Million BarrelsThousand Million BarrelsThousand Million TonnsShare of TotalR/P Ratio
29.546.448.448.46.32.8%107.9
Oil Production in thousands of barrels per day

20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Growth Rate Per annum
1739179951615391048518437412929116512272019: 5.3%
2008-18: 4.6%
Share 2019: 1.3%
Oil Production in thousands of barrels per day

20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Growth Rate Per annum
81.784.624.372.649.424.420.519.343.854.957.82019: 5.2%
2008-18: 4.6%
Share 2019: 1.3%
Oil Production in million tonnes

20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Growth Rate Per annum
1687174850814991025510422397909114412002019: 4.9%
2008-18: 4.5%
Share 2019: 1.4%
Crude oil and condensate production in thousands of barrels per day

20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Growth Rate Per annum
515084022815152021272019: 27.7%
2008-18: 10.9%
Share 2019: 0.2%
Natural gas liquids production in thousands of barrels per day

After the 2011 revolution the rebound in the oil sector marks a stark contrast with much in Libya, where the fall of Moammar Gaddafi, a weak central government has struggled to secure borders and rein in hundreds of well-armed militias.

The internal oil conflict began when the Libyan National Army (LNA), the force controlling the east, announced that it would cooperate with the National Oil Corporation, reducing the risk of and already exacerbating institutional divisions in the country. Then the oil ports crisis erupted in three phases.

It started on June 14, 2014, the state’s security vacuum began and an attack led by Ibrahim Jadran, the former commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, in the so-called “Oil Crescent”, was his attempt to regain control of the Oil Crescent within a week. In late June, the conflict developed into a larger one over control of oil and gas revenues. The commander of the Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, announced that he would not allow the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation to manage oil sales from the eastern ports, and assign a previously inactive National Oil Company, based in Benghazi.

And state institutions split in 2014. Quickly, the National Oil Corporation in the east does not have any legal authority in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions to control oil. The result was an immediate shutdown of oil sales from eastern Libya: this decision was illegal: there were no buyers for the oil sold and the country’s exports fell by 50 percent, further starving the economy of hard currency and resulting in oil smuggling.

Under intense international pressure, the head of the Presidency Council of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj, submitted to the UN Security Council to establish an international committee to oversee an independent review of the disbursement of funds by the Central Bank of Libya. Hence the division in Libya and the smuggling of oil began.

The informal relationship between the Italian and Maltese mafia and Libyan militia leaders in oil smuggling operations was discovered. The Maltese authorities then failed to curb illegal fuel smuggling, making the island a haven for oil traders from Libya. There is political instability in the region, which international observers have warned is contributing to instability in Libya and costing the country nearly $1 billion (£740 million) a year in lost revenue we know nothing of.

Ahmed Al Atrash, Chairman of Libyan Experts/ Forum for Development Cooperation ” emphasized that the Maltese authorities did not take steps to prevent ship-to-ship transfers,  About 12 miles (19 km) off the Maltese coast, in waters bordering the country. Every week at least 12 ship-to-ship smuggling operations in waters bordering Malta, the Maltese Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security, which manages customs and law enforcement, has yet to respond. As the journalist’s murder has emerged as a source of international and domestic concern, the US Treasury has warned that illicit fuel smuggling poses a threat to peace and security in Libya, yet this smuggling is repeated every day. Fuel smuggling is a cause and symptom of dysfunction and political vacuum in Libya”.

Attia Al-Fitouri is an academic and expert/economist, former member of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank ,”The impact of the oil sector comes from the revenues that accrue to the state from its export, and therefore smuggling affects the local supply of gasoline and naphtha, as a large part of the smuggled oil is imported from abroad because local refineries provide only 30% of market demand, nor There is a role for the Central Bank in preventing smuggling, but the role of the government, specifically the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for preventing smuggling and maintaining security”.

Smuggled Libyan oil brought by Debonos’ ships in Malta  

The Swiss company accepts fuel smuggled from Libya inside tanks leased from Enemed between 2014 and 2015, to resell the oil at sea and the European market. Businessman Colmar, from Zug, obtained oil from a smuggling operation run by Libyan smuggler Fahmi Salim bin Khalifa al-Libi, and Maltese citizens Darren and Gordon Debono.Investigations by the NGO TRIAL International and Swiss public advocacy group Public Eye, which campaigns on issues of corporate accountability and oil clearance by Malta customs using data from ship movements and information on bank payments, confirms an investigation that the tanks at Ras Hanzier and Ha Saptan were used to store Oil delivered by chartered ships by Darren and Gordon Debono.

The report reveals the delivery of smuggled Libyan oil to tanks leased by Colmar from the state oil company Enimed. Over 20 cargoes of marine gasoil from Libya were delivered to Colmar’s tanks in Malta between spring 2014 and summer 2015, from ships chartered by Gordon Debono.

A copy of a Banif Bank statement for Oceano Blu Trading Ltd shows that from 18 June to 22 July 2015, Kolmar made 11 transfers totaling over $11 million; from July to December 2015, Kolmar also occupied all five fuel tanks at the Has Saptan underground storage near Malta Airport.

from 27 May 2014 to 18 July 2015, the three ships offloaded some 50,000 MT of marine gas oil 22 times at Ras Hanzir (19) and Has Saptan (3),  by Using data from the automatic identification systems (AIS) of the ships Amazigh F, Ruta, and Selay – all chartered by Darren and Gordon Debono.

At the time Colmar made the 2015 transfers to Oceano Blu Trading, neither UN experts nor Italian investigators had the Ben Khalifa-Debono network in their sights. At the time, Libyan prime ministers publicly complained to the prime minister of Malta about the diversion of large quantities of smuggled fuel to the island. Since then, UN experts have called on the Security Council to address the issue of fuel smuggling from Libya.

After investigations, Debonos was arrested in October 2017 by the Italian police and placed under house arrest; While Fahmy Selim was arrested in Libya after he lost protection from the head of the Economic Committee of the Libyan House of Representatives.

Investigations revealed that the Libyan Government of National Accord in Tripoli, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, gave money to militias in defense of the positions held by members of the government, ignoring the amount of corruption that has spread in their institutions to the extent that it is no longer possible to control them. The government also supported the militias, involvement in fuel smuggling activities, and the seizure of Libya’s resources in the Central Bank and the National Oil Corporation. These are examples of crimes committed by the Government of National Accord in agreement and agreement with government officials and the Brotherhood.

Special budget for militias as soon as Operation Flood of Dignity began, Fayez Al-Sarraj provided the full financial support needed for these militias. On April 9, 2019, he ordered the Audit Bureau, the Central Bank of Tripoli and the Ministry of Finance of Al-Wefaq to issue Resolutions No. 497 of 2019 and 498 of 2019. Both resolutions provide for the allocation of two billion Libyan dinars (1.4 billion dollars) to address what he described as “the exceptional circumstances the country is going through.” He also allocated 400 million dinars (286 million dollars) for militias in an attempt to confront the advance of the Libyan army towards Tripoli.

Negative impact on oil smuggling

1. Health Sector  

The state of the health system in Libya, which has always been effective, is now in a very critical situation. Several hospitals were closed, and the situation of other hospitals became difficult due to their destruction, lack of experienced medical staff, and shortages of medicines and basic equipment, especially insulin and dialysis equipment. Hala Bugaighis, Senior Researcher, Consultant and the Co-Founder at Jusoor Center for Studies and Development , confirmed “ The health situation in this country is not surprising in a country where two health ministers are affiliated with two different governments fighting over power, while the new government does not do anything because it needs a high budget to restore the hospitals, but this hope does not exist because state funds are smuggled through oil”.

Many hospitals in Libya used to employ foreign nurses, but most of them left due to the war against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the armed conflict between supporters and enemies of political Islam. Médecins Sans Frontières and Jusoor are providing donations of essential medicines to these still operating hospitals. In eastern Libya, we are facing the same problem: a shortage of trained staff and a shortage of medicines in hospitals. We also provide similar support in hospitals receiving the wounded.  In the city of Benghazi, where jihadist forces and the national army of the Tobruk government are facing each other, Doctors without Borders provides medicines to three hospitals. At the Benghazi Medical Center, WHO staff will organize training on emergency response. As a result of the fighting that began in 2014 in the city of Benghazi, the city’s hospitals received more than a hundred wounded. Other wounded were taken to Al-Marj and Al-Abyar hospitals in eastern Benghazi, with which MSF is cooperating.

In addition, Libya is experiencing a displacement crisis where people are fleeing violence. Benghazi alone receives more than 100,000 displaced people. The lack of immunization coverage and the rise in maternal mortality appear as additional repercussions of the health crisis in Libya. Therefore, WHO provides vaccines to health centers located in the eastern and western regions?

A critical problem facing Libya’s health care system is the lack of primary health care facilities, such as local clinics and district hospitals. The government spends 3.3% of its GDP on health care.

populationPeople affectedPeople in needPeople in need Health SectorPeople in acute health need
7,400,000  2,470,0001,250,0001,195,3891,010,000

However, due to the lack of an overall long-term health care strategy, health care expenditure is often non-targeted and inconsistent.

How Recovered Assets Can Strengthen the Healthcare Sector in Libya

2. Electricity crisis

Libya suffers from power outages due to militias and oil smuggling, according to world bank  Libya electricity access for 2018 was 67.00%, a 3.43% decline from 2017. While 2017 was 70.43%, a 1.5% decline from 2016.

Date% of PopulationAnnual Change
12/31/200099.8 
12/31/200197.1164-2.68
12/31/200295.4272-1.69
12/31/200393.7284-1.7
12/31/200492.019-1.71
12/31/200590.298-1.72
12/31/200688.5678-1.73
12/31/200786.8346-1.73
12/31/200885.1045-1.73
12/31/200983.3839-1.72
12/31/201081.679-1.7
12/31/201179.9959-1.68
12/31/201278.3392-1.66
12/31/201376.7067-1.63
12/31/201475.0942-1.61
12/31/201573.4979-1.6
12/31/201671.9136-1.58
12/31/201770.3373-1.58
12/31/201867-3.34
12/31/201968.53221.53

Continuing power outages, as power outages reach 12 hours per day. The expenses allocated to the Electricity Company in Libya during 8 years amounted to about $23.5 billion, which is a very large number, in addition to the reports of the Audit Bureau on the enormity of the “thefts”.

The contract was with a “fake” company, and that the financial value of completing the deal, which is estimated at 42 million euros, required everyone to contract with well-known companies to abide by their commitments and supply what was required of them within the prescribed time period according to the contract concluded between the Libyan state as a first party and the company as a second party .

Solution to the crisis

The economic researcher, Essa Rashwan, “revealed major financial irregularities for the General Electricity Company, estimated at $23.5 billion in expenses during the period from 2012 to 2020. She monitored the size of the “thefts” and how they are repeated in the same way, stressing that there are approximately 13 billion dollars that were spent. I stole them during this period by concluding contracts with fictitious companies”.The new Libyan government, which assumed its duties in March 2020, spent more than 900 million dinars on spare parts for stations and power-generating units, and concluded contracts from some neighboring countries to provide them with electricity, but the thefts and successive attacks on the stations exacerbated the situation.

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Miral Sabry AlAshry
An Associate Professor at Future University in Egypt(FUE), Political Mass Media Department. Author of the book - The Struggle for Libya. Contributor to The Eastern Herald from Egypt.