By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 13 March 2014:
The North Korean government has severed all links to the oil tanker Morning Glory that loaded . . .[restrict]an illegal shipment of oil at Sidra port whilst sailing under the North Korean flag.
The vessel was run by an Egyptian company, according to North Korean news agency KCNA, and was given permission to temporarily use the DPRK flag for six months as part of a contract signed at the end of February.
The loading of an illegal shipment of oil at Sidra port apparently violated this contract and North Korea demanded that the ship leave the port without loading oil, said the spokesman for the North Korean Maritime Administration.
“The DPRK formally notified the Libyan government and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that it cancelled and deleted the ship’s DPRK registry and invalidated all the certificates,” he said. The tanker had violated North Korea’s law on the registry of ships, as well as the contract, which prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo, the spokesman said.
The ship now had nothing to do with North Korea, he added.
The revelation that an Egyptian company was involved with Morning Glory adds a further twist in the mystery of who is behind the illegal oil purchase.
The Director of the Alexandria-based company told the Libya Herald that it was neither the ship’s operators nor managers, and dealt solely with paperwork relating to certificates and expiry dates.
“Our company does not own the tanker, nor is our company an agent for it nor an operator thereof. Our company never gets involved in any way in the cargo management or the determining of ports or destination of the said tanker,” the company said in a statement.
“We are not managers for the ship so we don’t get any notifications from it and we do not have permission to ask it leave or enter any ports. This is the responsibility of the owner and operators,” he said. “We are not able to know or control its contracts or deals.”
The manager said he could not give any details about who owned or operated the ship because it had dealt with the Morning Glory company solely through emails.
Both the General National Congress (GNC) and the National Oil Company (NOC) previously said the boat was owned by a Saudi Arabian businessman. Shipping sources, however, told the Libya Herald that a company based in the UAE was behind the deal.
The Morning Glory sails on, through the murky waters of who struck the deal with Ibrahim Jadhran to buy the oil. Now stripped of its rights to sail under for flag of North Korea, it may now be facing another legal challenge, as international maritime law requires every merchant ship to be registered in a country.
The last reported sighting of the vessel was yesterday off the coast of Egypt near the town of Mersa Matruh, according to Culture Minister Habib Al-Amin. [/restrict]