North Korea has officially denied ownership of the Morning Glory oil tanker, which illegally loaded 234,000 barrels of oil from the rebel controlled al-Sidra oil terminal in Libya.
A spokesman for the North Korea’s Maritime Administration said that the vessel “has nothing to do with the DPRK at present and it has no responsibility whatsoever as regards the ship,” via the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday.
According to the KCNA report, the tanker is controlled by the Egypt based Golden East Logistics Company. North Korean authorities said that they allowed the company to use the country’s flag for six months “in accordance with the contract made by the company with the DPRK at the end of February”.
“The North Koreans have had an open shipping registry for years, with the International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF), first listing the DPRK as using flags of covenience (FOC) in 2005,” NK News’ shipping analyst Leo Byrne said.
“The company in question, Golden East Logistics, also seems to have a preference for using FOCs. Its other vessels are flagged to Tanzania and Sierra Leone and are all currently operating around African waters or the Black Sea,” he added.
The report makes no further mention of the particular contract in question, but goes on to state that Pyongyang undertook appropriate measures upon receiving notice of the situation from Libyan authorities.
“The DPRK formally notified the Libyan government and the International Maritime Organization that it cancelled and deleted the ship’s DPRK registry and invalidated all the certificates,” North Korea’s Maritime Administration said in the statement.
The DPRK-flagged ship docked at the rebel-controlled Libyan terminal of al-Sidra on Saturday and began loading crude oil. The Libyan central government responded quickly, threatening to bomb the tanker if it left the port, while pro-government militias on Sunday dispatched naval vessels to stop and seize the 37,000 ton vessel.
Despite the military intervention, it was reported on Tuesday that the ship had escaped to international waters.
On Sunday, NK News reported that the ship was likely carrying a flag of convenience. Illicit Trafficking analyst Lawrence Dermody at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute noted that the vessel’s ownership and positional history meant that North Korean ownership was unlikely.
“The ship looks to have recently changed hands after operating in the Middle East for a number of years and is not reported as visiting the Far East since 2008,” Dermody said, adding that there is still “a small number of vessel owners that appear to use the [North Korean] flag for this purpose”.
During the past week, international news reports have frequently referred to the ship as North Korean.
Lawmakers in Tripoli Tuesday voted to dismiss prime minister Ali Zeidan, after the ship had managed to escape Libyan naval forces and make it to international waters, alledgedly under rebel protection, Voice of America reported.
The current destination of the Morning Glory is unknown.
Featured Image: John Loo, Creative Commons
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 492 words of this article.