April 29, 2011 / 2:20 AM / 9 years ago

Libya rebel oil cargo heads for China, buyer remains a mystery

SINGAPORE/BEIJING, April 29 (Reuters) - A tanker with the first major oil shipment from rebel-held east Libya is expected to arrive in China next week, traders said on Friday, but it remain unclear who the buyer of the cargo is.

The Liberia-registered tanker Equator, reported to be carrying 80,000 tonnes of crude, left the rebel-held east Libyan port of Marsa el Hariga three weeks ago, carrying fuel exports vital to financing the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

“Our data shows the vessel will arrive in Ningbo on May 1, but it could also be going to Dalian,” said a Singapore-based shipbroker.

The buyer of the cargo was not yet clear as trading house Vitol, which is managing the shipment, has not commented on its Libyan transactions.

Oil traders told Reuters on Thursday that finding a buyer for the cargo was not straightforward, with many of the usual traders still worried about legal complications related to the ownership of oil and international sanctions.

Industry sources said Sinopec and Chinaoil were not buyers of the rebel-owned cargo.

“State-owned companies are not likely to be the buyers as they could be sued by doing so,” said a Beijing-based oil trader.

The aframax tanker left Singapore on Thursday after a brief refueling stop, according to ship tracking data provided by Marine Traffic and Reuters Freightviews. [ID:nLDE73Q16J]

The data indicated the vessel was bound for Honolulu, but traders said that this was likely to be its next destination after unloading its crude oil cargo in China. (Reporting by Randy Fabi in Singapore and Judy Hua in Beijing)

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