Libya - Shipping Opportunities Abound as Libya Enters Post-Qadhafi Era09 Sep 2011 • by Natalie Aster
With all but a few small enclaves now in the hands of the National Transition Council (NTC) and Qadhafi deposed from his presidency, Libya is preparing to forge its future following months of conflict. One of the key priorities for the NTC, which will preside over the country until elections are held, will be to restore trade. BMI notes that shipping companies are looking to resume normal services to the North African country, and that there will be new opportunities for some in the post-Qadhafi era.
The EU has already announced that it is to lift the sanctions it imposed on six Libyan ports during the struggle, in addition to several oil companies and banks. The blockade of the six Qadhafi-held ports - Tripoli, Zuara, Zawiyah, al-Khoms, Ras Lanuf and oil terminal Brega - was implemented to starve the incumbent regime into submission, denying it an outlet to export oil and the means to import refined fuels.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton stated: 'Our goal is to provide resources to the interim government and the Libyan people and help to make the economy function again. Today's decision concerns in particular Libyan ports, as well as the energy and banking sectors. The EU has acted swiftly in the light of the developments on the ground.'
Open For Business?
Major Libyan Ports
BMI expects that with the lifting of the sanctions shipping companies will be looking to re-enter the Libyan market. NATO did warn in the week following the capture of Tripoli by the rebels that 'sporadic untargeted firings out to sea from around the harbour area remain a cause for concern to maritime traffic,' but noted that it 'is celebratory fire and does not target shipping or the port'. This will have now died down, making the port safe once again for shipping companies.
Maersk Line, the world's largest container-shipping company, has announced it is to resume services to Libya from September 8, which will be its first since suspending services in February. Press officer Michael Storgaard said: 'Currently only acceptance into Benghazi has been agreed. However, we follow the development closely and will evaluate the feasibility of opening up acceptance into the remaining Libyan ports ongoing with the safety of our local staff and vessel crew in mind as well as the likelihood of operating the ports in question. The cargo loading on the first vessel to call Benghazi will mainly be cargo that has been withheld in other Mediterranean ports due to the unrest in Libya.'
One liner that continued to call at Libya through the conflict is CMA CGM, world number-three, which carried on servicing Benghazi and Misrata throughout, and only stopped pulling in to Tripoli in August. The company has said that it is monitoring the situation with an eye to resuming normal services. BMI expects that in addition to the initial backlog of withheld cargoes, the containers bound for Libya in the coming weeks and months will have a large proportion of humanitarian aid as the country deals with the aftermath of the conflict.
BMI notes that as Libya emerges into its new era there will be business opportunities for freight transport and logistics companies. Companies such as the General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC), controlled by Qadhafi's son Hannibal (who has fled to Algeria), will likely be reorganised, hopefully for the benefit of the Libyan people as a whole rather than a small familial plutocracy. International container terminals operator DP World's CEO, Mohammed Sharaf, has said that 'We have been and always would be interested in Libya because of the emerging market potential it offers.'
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