Wisby Tankers continues fueling occupation of Western Sahara

The Swedish shipping company Wisby Tankers continues its transports of petroleum products into the occupied territory of Western Sahara at same level as earlier, but a new vessel has started on the route.
Published: 12.06 - 2017 23:33Printer version    
In 2014, Western Sahara Resource Watch published a report detailing how the Swedish shipping company Wisby Tankers was the key transporter of petroleum products into the territory of Western Sahara, currently under Moroccan occupation. The products are used for Moroccan administration, army and for the plunder of the resources in the territory.

By calculating the traffic of the three Swedish owned vessels Wisby Cedar and Wisby Argan (until November 2016) and Wisby Teak (from January 2017) during the three years from 3 May 2014 to 9 May 2017, WSRW now estimates that the company has shipped around 200 million liters of petroleum annually into Western Sahara since the report was published. That is more or less the same volume from before.

The previous study - called Fuelling the Occupation - was based on analysis of shipment data from the time the vessels entered into operation in 2010, to 3 May 2014. That study established how El Aaiun and Dakhla harbours together received an average of over half a million liters of petroleum – 531,000 liters – each and every day, day in and day out, from the two tankers.

The new calculation that WSRW has made shows the following:
  • Wisby Argan undertook voyages from the refineries in Spain into Western Sahara on 68 occasions from May 2014 to May 2017. At 45 of the trips, the vessel surely offloaded the totality of its cargo in El Aaiun or Dakhla, either at one or two of the ports at the same journey. 31 of the journeys were to El Aaiun, 4 times to Dakhla, 10 times to both.

  • In addition, on 23 additional voyages, Wisby Argan visited ports in Western Sahara ports either on the way to or from Moroccan ports. It is thus not possible to ascertain the exact quantity of the cargo discharged in Western Sahara. 3 of these journeys were to Dakhla, 16 to El Aaiun and 4 to both.

  • Wisby Cedar undertook 19 voyages into Western Saharan waters. 11 trips were to offload its totality in Western Sahara (8 times in El Aaiun and 3 times in Dakhla), while 10 times calling at El Aaiun on journey where the vessel also visited Moroccan ports.

  • Wisby Teak entered into operation in shuttle between Spain and Western Sahara from January 2017. From January to 9 May 2017, the vessel carried out 2 voyages from Spain to offload the totality of the cargo in El Aaiun, as well as an additional 3 journeys where it also stopped in Morocco on the way to or from.

    Each of the 100 metre-long Norwegian-flagged tankers has a capacity of about 7,100 cubic metres – 7,100,000 liters – in nine tanks. In making deliveries, we estimate that the ships’ tanks are filled to about 95% of rated capacity; just over 6,400,000 liters. If presupposing that the vessels were always full upon entering Western Sahara waters, the total discharged cargo would be 613,8 million liters of petroleum products over the three-year period from May 2014 to May 2017– or 204 million liters annually. This is near identical as the period before.

    If applying a more conservative estimate of the vessels that visited Morocco on the way to or from Western Sahara - for instance by supposing they were half full - the total volume discharged in Western Sahara would be 497,5 million liters– or 165,8 million liters annually.

    The exporter is most probably the refinery of the Spanish company CEPSA. WSRW requested CEPSA for comments on 2 June 2014 and 12 June 2017, and is yet to receive a response.

    WSRW contacted Wisby Tankers on 12 June 2017. Any response to the letter will be added to this article.



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    Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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