Ali Zeidan threatens to bomb North Korean oil tanker
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has warned that Tripoli will bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker which is illegally loading crude oil from an eastern port in the country.
“The attorney general has given the order for the ship to be stopped,” the Libyan prime minister told a news conference on Saturday, stressing, “All parties must respect Libyan sovereignty. If the ship does not comply, it will be bombed.”
Earlier on Saturday, the militants controlling the eastern Libyan oil facility of al-Sidra attempted to load crude oil onto the North Korean-flagged tanker, dubbed the Morning Glory, in defiance of the central government. The state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC) says the vessel is actually owned by a Saudi company.
The militants have warned the central government in Tripoli against planning any attack to halt their independent oil sale.
The Libyan prime minister further said the authorities had told the tanker’s captain to leave Libya’s territorial waters, but the captain said armed gunmen onboard were preventing him from leaving.
Libya’s acting Oil Minister Omar Shakmak has denounced the militants’ move as an “act of piracy,” saying, “This is a violation of national sovereignty. It is up to the Defense Ministry to deal with this ship.”
Tripoli has made efforts to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields across the country that have slashed oil output to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from 1.4 million bpd in July.
Libya heavily relies on its key oil and gas sector, which accounts for the vast majority of hard currency receipts and government revenues, and the disruptions to the sector have badly influenced its economy.