Libya stops oil deliveries to Switzerland
Libya’s state-owned oil company halts oil sales for the second time since Hannibal Gadhafi’s arrest in Geneva.9 October 2008
GENEVA -- Libya's state-owned oil company said that it stopped oil deliveries to Switzerland on Wednesday, after the July arrest of Moammar Gadhafi's son in Geneva sparked a diplomatic conflict.
Tamoil Switzerland spokesman Laurent Paoliello declined to answer questions about the decision.
Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said he was unable to comment because Switzerland received no official communication about oil shipments from Tripoli.
Libya, which supplies about a fifth of all the petroleum used in Switzerland, briefly threatened to stop deliveries in July because of a dispute over the arrest of Hannibal Gadhafi at a luxury hotel in Geneva on suspicion of beating two of his servants.
Gadhafi was released on bail three days later and returned to Libya with his wife, but the incident led to a series of diplomatic responses that included Libya recalling some of its diplomats from Switzerland, suspending the issuing of visas for Swiss citizens, reducing the number of flights to Switzerland and detaining two Swiss nationals. The two were later released on bail but ordered to stay in Libya.
Rolf Hartl, managing director of the Swiss Petroleum Association, told The Associated Press he believes the latest measure by Libya is an attempt to increase diplomatic pressure on Switzerland to close the case against Gadhafi.
"It's annoying, but the delivery stop won't cause fundamental problems for Switzerland's oil supply", he said, noting that Swiss petroleum buyers would switch to other suppliers if Tamoil runs out of stock.
"In the end it's an economic own-goal because the only ones who suffer will be Tamoil, which is owned by Libya", Hartl said. "Sooner or later all parties have an interest in returning to business as usual".
[AP / Expatica]