* Details of oil sales in 2013 confidential - NOC
* Post-war enthusiasm for transparency has waned
* Observers say there is still time for reform
By Jessica Donati and Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON/TRIPOLI, Jan 25 Libya will not reveal the
details of its oil sales this year, National Oil Corporation
(NOC) officials told Reuters this week, stepping back from
pledges to deliver greater transparency after the corruption of
the pre-revolutionary regime.
Oil producers commonly keep the details of crude deals
secret, yet Libyan officials promised to publish the details of
oil deals after over 40 years of secrecy under deposed leader
The state firm revealed who would buy Libya's oil in 2012
and began releasing information on prices and volumes of oil
shipments on its website - but this lasted just two months,
ending in 2011.
Libya's NOC chairman, Nuri Berruien, said any secrecy
clauses were introduced at the request of clients, not the NOC,
and that most of last year's buyers would continue to purchase
The state firm would resume publishing details on its yearly
activities, he said.
"I have asked them (marketing department) to put all of the
activities undertaken last year on the website, like an annual
report. I am surprised it is taking this long, but it will be
there," Berruien said.
But plans to address past corruption have also halted. The
committee the National Transitional Council (NTC) set up in late
2011 to probe Gaddafi-era oil deals made little progress due to
the slow handover of documentation, according to one of its
That committee was dissolved with the transitional
authorities after July elections for the General National
Congress and no taskforce has yet been set up in its place to
investigate Gaddafi-era oil deals.
Progress on energy sector transparency has stalled,
according to Tim Bittiger, a director at the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative, an NGO that seeks to promote
transparency in oil and mining.
"Indications at the moment are not that great. Partners have
suggested we wait until there is a new government in place
before renewing talks", he said.
The Libyan congress now has its own energy committee, headed
by Suleiman Ghjum, which with 15 members plays a supervisory
role - which makes recommendations across a range of fields and
has plans to investigate corruption.
"We should look at all the contracts that look suspicious,"
a member of the GNC energy committee told Reuters last month.
He said he wanted to meet with members of the now dissolved
NTC committee to talk about their work.
Details on the identities of Libya's oil buyers this year
have emerged through a survey of traders who were customers last
year, but many are reluctant to disclose the volumes they have
been allocated, or say that details are still being finalised.
Last year, the NOC provided a breakdown on allocations,
revealing that trading houses had won around 9 percent of
Libya's full pre-war exports of 1.3 million barrels per day.
This was a break from a policy of restricting sales to
refiners, although many, like Italy's Saras, remained the
"All the allocations have been awarded, but we have
restrictions because some clients didn't like being named last
year," the NOC source said, adding that confidentiality clauses
had been written into the contracts.
A survey of oil traders revealed that Italian refiners Eni
and Saras would receive volumes similar to last year,
while Spain's Repsol would take the same or slightly
China's Unipec, which was allocated a "good share" last year
according to the NOC at the time, was expected to increase its
take to 6-7 shipments per month, equivalent to just over 100,000
barrels of oil per day (bpd).
Details on allocations to trading houses had yet to emerge.
However, an industry source said Glencore, which took the
largest volume awarded to traders last year, would purchase
cargoes on the spot market rather than under contract.
"We need to give the industry (and people within the
industry) time to break from the company culture that was in
place under Gaddafi, during which period anyone breaking
protocol or standing out from the crowd stood to be severely
punished," said Zara Rahman, research associate at energy
"Changing that company culture won't happen immediately; it
was in place for over 40 years."
Rahman said the decision to keep the identity of this year's
crude oil buyers secret may also be linked to unrest that at
times over recent months brought parts of the industry to a
"It's unlikely, what with various strikes and upheavals in
the industry as we've seen over the past few months, that anyone
in mid or higher level management would stick their neck out,"
"I would suggest that this could simply be a return to
pre-revolution protocol for want of a new protocol to follow."
The page on the NOC's website providing details on its oil
deals remained available.
"In the wake of the great success of the glorious 17th Feb
revolution, NOC has adopted the principle of transparency," the
state oil firm said on its website.
Below, there is a list of the names of firms that had
registered for crude oil tenders and two months' worth of
details on shipment prices and volumes.
(Additional reporting by Julia Payne in London, Emma Farge in
Geneva and Ali Shuaib in Tripoli, editing by William Hardy)