More than 250.000 tons of phosphates, worth more than $25 million, are about to be shipped out of Western Sahara, . There is no information regarding the consent of the landowners, the Saahrawis, on the selling of this phosphate by Moroccan state company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates).
The absence of consultation and consent of the Saharawi people makes this operation illegal.
The first 50,000 tons of phosphate are currently loaded into the Bulk Carrier Triton Swan moored at dock. 4 other bulk carriers are waiting at anchor south of the port.
The 5 bulk carriers in question are as follows, detailed by their order of arrival to El Aaiun.
Triton Swan, IMO 9632985, sailing under Panama's flag, its dead weight is 61457 tons, arrived on February 15th coming from Fos-sur-mer (France) after calling at Gibraltar. According to available information it is owned by Triton Navigation - Amsterdam, Netherlands.
African Sunbird, IMO 9397884, sailing under Panama's flag, its dead weight is 55688 tons, arrived on February 22 coming from Rotterdam (Netherlands) after calling at Las Palmas (Spain). His owner seems to be Misuga Kaiun - Tokyo, Japan.
Ultra Passion, IMO 9811907, sailing under Panama's flag, its dead weight is 63472 tons it arrived on February 27th coming from Oran (Algeria) Via Las Palmas. His owner is Ultrabulk A/S, Denmark.
Zeyno 9700421, sailing under Malta's flag. its dead weight is 63064 tons. It arrived February 27th coming from Fos-sur-mer (France). His owner is Gsd Denizcilik Gayrimenkul, Turkey.
Bi Jia Shan, IMO 9632272, , sailing under Hong Kong's flag, its dead weight is 56625 tons. It arrived on March 14th coming from Civitavecchia (Italy) via Las Palmas. Its owner and operator is China Shipping International Ship management Co, Shanghai, China.
The reasons for this influx of bulk carriers and their long waiting are still unknown.
The sailors we asked evoked periods of high winds which could potentially prevent any approach to the wharf. But they had doubts about the relevance of this reason over such a long period.
Phosphate workers did not report any problem with the 100km conveyor that connects the Boucraa mines to the port.
Another hypothesis would be that this expectation could be linked to South African supreme court‘s final decision in February 24th stating that the 55,000 tons cargo of phosphate immobilized for nine months in Port Elizabeth aboard the NM Cherry Blossom, originally transported for sale by the OCP, was illegally and belongs to the Saharawi people.
Nevertheless this logic breaks down, the legal and financial risks inherent in the transport of this phosphate are clearly real, and would probably have impacts on transport and logistics company strategies and their sponsors. but these 5 ships are waiting for loading.
This is all as significant buyers declared as Nutrien announced to have decided not to stock up in occupied territory as from this year. Is an importer looking for forecasting stock?
By the time this article has been published the destinations of the ships are not known, nor the identities of the companies that buyed the cargoes.
Recent European boat movements at the port of El Aaiun are reported here for their collaboration with Moroccan activities in a territory under military occupation.
The ships are the Marley, the Oceanic, and the Eems Dublin.
On March 12, 2018 the Belgian Marley ship IMO 9116814 dropped anchor in El Aaiun’s harbor. It’s her fourth transport from Casablanca since the beginning of February. It has every time unloaded its cargo in El Aaiun .
The Océanic, sailing under Dutch flag, IMO 9624550, arrived the same day, coming from Ceuta.
Eems Dublin, also sailing under Dutch flag, just left the port of El Aaiun empty after unloaded its cargo. It had arrived on March 8.
These three ships have the ability to transport wind turbine elements.
Sources confirmed that Eems Dublin brought pods, rotors, multipliers and generators. These devices would be intended for Boujdour wind projects. Thewind power generation parks are built in Western Sahara by Morocco to serve its activities of illegal occupation and according to our information Morocco did not receive the authorization of the representatives of the Saharawi people. The European Court of Justice reminded all its members by its verdict on December 2016 on the EU-Morocco trade agreement, then on January 2018 on the fishing agreement between the same parties, that all activities with or for Morocco in Western Sahara are illegal without the consent of the Saharawis.
The European vessels listed above therefore have contentious activities.
Furthermore, since February 15th 2018, the Russian ship Akademik Primakov, IMO 9187514 accompanied by support and safety vessels Sursum Corda and Marja, were observed off El Aaiun. It was at this time that the loops of the seismic surveys began. The 92,5 meter long vessel is equipped with 16 seismic streamer winches for 3D seismic data acquisition and with capacity for 68 persons.
The BGP Prospecter, IMO 9545986, , sailing under Bahamas' flag, has been conducting seismic surveys off Boujdour at least since February 5th . The ship is accompanied by Geo Service 1, Flamingo and Shannon. Both vessels operate without Saharawi authorization.
In occupied city of Dakhla, the Italian ferry Rhapsody, IMO 9104835, owned by Grandi Navi Veloci, coming from Marseille via Las Palmas , arrived at the port on March 10, 2018.
With a capacity of 2650 passengers and 708 vehicles, the ship is at the service of the 2018 edition of the Crans Montana Forum, expected to be held until March 20, 2018. The same pattern had occurred in 2016. The Tourmag news web site has precisely indicated “600 participants will be invited on board. From 10th to 18th of March 2018. GNV provides its accommodation and hotel services and a full board service. It will also host the gala evening before leaving for a mini-cruise to Casablanca." The Crans Montana Forum, which is supposed to bring together "heads of state, international organizations and companies around Africa" is in fact promoted by Morocco to celebrate its illegal occupation of Western Sahara.
The instrumentalisation of the object and the place of the meeting have been denounced by the African Union which called again, as it did in 2015, all the member States, the organizations of the African civil society and the other actors concerned to boycott this edition.
It should be noted that on October 9, 2017, EM had published an article informing of a similar phenomenon of the queue of bulk carriers of phosphate transport. They were then 3. These are not the only phosphate transports in the last 6 months.
Systematic information on phosphate vessels, their cargoes, destinations and owners, are studied and reported by the international organization WSRW, Western Sahara resources watch. It’s available online.