Major Tanker Owner Confirms Suezmax To Load In Libya Friday

LONDON (Dow Jones)–A suezmax vessel is due to load in Libya Friday with no issues expected despite the order by head of state Col. Moammar Gadhafi to close the country’s ports, the head of a major tanker company said Wednesday.

“Today, we aren’t seeing any problems with vessels and I think the vessel should leave without problems in a couple of days,” the company’s chief executive told Dow Jones Newswires, on condition of anonymity.

All ports, including Zawia, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misurata, were closed Tuesday, traders in Libya said, with force majeure declared on all imports of gasoline and gas oil.

“In terms of trade flows, I don’t think we can say if Libyan crude flows will need to replaced by other exporting countries just yet, it’s a developing situation,” the chief executive said.

The suezmax, a crude and products tanker, will load at either Marsa Elbrega, Zawia or Es Sidar, he said.

“We aren’t scared to send vessels to Libya. In the worst case if they cannot reach [the port], the vessels can just hover in the Mediterranean, in places such as Malta and Gibraltar,” he said.

Container shipping company CMA CGMCMA CGMLoading… shipping group meanwhile said two of its vessels are currently in Libya–one at quay in Misurata and the other at anchorage in front of Tripoli port.

“CMA CGMCMA CGMLoading… continues to accept bookings to Libya, excluding reefer [refrigerator vessel] and hazardous cargo bookings that are temporarily suspended until further notice,” the company said in a notice on its website, adding however it was unable “to guarantee transit times to Libya.”

Storage capacity in Malta will be used for all cargo destined for Libya while ports remained closed, so when the situation improves deliveries can be resumed as quickly as possible, the company said.

CMA CGMCMA CGMLoading… in Libya is represented by a third party agent, OSCL. At present, the OSCL office in Tripoli is open with skeleton staff. OSCL offices in Misurata, Khoms and Benghazi are temporarily closed.

Libya, an oil-exporting member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, accounts for about 1.7% of world crude output, and its estimated oil reserves of 44.3 billion barrels is the largest in Africa.

-By Neena Rai, Dow Jones Newswires