Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) is considering using a chemical marking system to help trace oil products smuggled out of the country, its chairman said on Wednesday. Mustafa Sanalla also called on a European Union naval mission to combat smugglers by seizing their ships in the Mediterranean, said the United Nations should consider sanctioning smugglers, and urged Libya to reform massive subsidies that allow fuel to be sold for as little as 2-3 U.S. cents per liter. “The fuel smugglers and thieves have permeated not only the militias which control much of Libya, but also the fuel distribution companies which are supposed to bring cheap fuel to Libyan citizens,” Sanalla told an inaugural Oil and Fuel Theft conference in Geneva. “The huge sums of money available from smuggling have corrupted large parts of Libyan society,” he said, according to a text of his speech.
The state-run NOC was looking at adding molecular markers to subsidized fuel, to help Libyan and international law enforcers including Europol, CEPOL and Interpol identify smugglers, Sanalla said. Fuels can be tracked by using chemical markers that bind to fuel molecules. Smuggling networks have flourished amid the political turmoil and armed conflict that developed following Libya’s 2011 uprising. Groups are often involved in multiple types of smuggling, making huge profits from illicit sales of fuel and the transfer of migrants toward Europe.