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Libya: Libya to introduce magnetic cards to fight fuel smuggling

The Libyan government is looking to equip citizens with magnetic cards that will be used to purchase fuel in a move to rationalize consumption and, especially, fight against huge smuggling to neighbouring countries, an official statement said in Tripoli on Saturday.

The card will be used by Libyans to purchase fuel at low prices at all pump stations. It will include a specific quantity allowed for each consumer so that the authorities will be able to monitor consumption and prevent abuse, including smuggling to neighbouring countries, especially Tunisia, the statement said.

However, a group estimates that around 200,000 foreign nationals living in Libya will no longer enjoy the benefits of this low price of fuel.

“This experiment will be implemented in the first stage over three months,” the Libyan government spokesman Ahmed al-Amine said, without elaborating on the specific date when the new measure will come into force.

The decision comes after statistics show an increase of 15 per cent in fuel consumption between 2012 and 2013, up from an average normal growth ranging between 3 and 7 per cent,  according to official estimates.

Fuel in Libya is subsidized by the state which spends 800 million Libyan dinars (1 US$ = 1.25 dinar) compensation. It is sold at 200 dirhams per litre at the pump station, two times cheaper than bottled water.

The availability of fuel at a low price in Libya has led to a flourishing trade in smuggling to neighboring countries, particularly Tunisia, where it is sold at a higher price.

Following this situation,the Libyan authorities decided in March 2014, to close for one month the Ras Jedir border post with Tunisia.

Libya which is the fourth African oil producing country, refines only a fraction of its consumption, with the rest being imported.


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