Apologizes for Western Sahara shipment
Article image

The Norwegian shipping company R-Bulk apologizes that one of their vessels has transported phosphates from Western Sahara, and say they will do their utmost to prevent it from happening again. The company is praised for its good corporate social responsibility.

Published 01 June 2008

Photo: Stan Muller/Shipspotting.com

On Friday 30th, it was revealed that the Norwegian shipping company R-Bulk has been involved in transporting 15.000 tonnes of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara to Colombia. The shipment was done on the vessel 'Radiance' in middle of April.

It is also possible that a company partially owned by the Chavez government in Venezuela received an almost equally large part of the ‘Radiance’ shipment few days before.

The affair was raised in an open letter to the company, signed by the one of Norway's biggest trade unions, Industry Energy, as well as the international research organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch, and Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara on Friday.

During the Friday R-Bulk apologized to Norwegian national media that their vessel had done such a transport, underlining that they are only owning the vessel, and that the day-to-day management of the vessel is done by a Japanese shipping company. 

R-Bulk said, however, that they were sorry, and that they were doing all in their power to prevent it from happening again. 

The phosphate industry in occupied Western Sahara - and thus also imports and shipping of the phosphate rock - is in violation of international law. It furthermore offers a sign of legitimisation of the brutal Moroccan occupation, and disregards the wishes and interests of the Sahrawi people. 

"The R-Bulk phosphate shipment is in the interest of Morocco, an illegal occupier, and clearly lends legitimacy to the illegal Moroccan occupation of the territory. This kind of support makes Morocco less inclined to contribute in finding a solution to the occupation, and makes delaying tactics and attempting to profit from the existing situation more attractive", the letter said.

The organisations asked R-Bulk to issue a statement that specifies that their vessels are not longer allowed to ship phosphates from occupied Western Sahara. 

To the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK Friday evening, the company said they had already raised the issue with the Japanese charterer Sanko Line, the very same morning. 

"We have of course raised this issue with the shipping company that has chartered the vessel, so that they can do their utmost to prevent this from happening again in the future", chairman of R-Bulk, Christian Gerhardt Sundt, said to NRK. 

According to the Norwegian News Agency (NTB), the Japanese company has rented Radiance from 2002 to 2016. 

"I am sure that the charterer will listen to international advise", the Norwegian ship owner told NTB. 

Good corporate behaviour
The president of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Ronny Hansen, said to NRK that R-Bulk’s statement is commendable.

"The shipping company has shown a good corporate social responsibility. They have apologised, and now they try to prevent it from happening again. Many companies can learn from them", Hansen said. 

As an example, he mentioned Norwegian companies such as the fishing company Sjøvik - a company that fishes in the occupied waters. 

Hansen underlined that the Norwegian government’s position to advise companies against getting engaged in Western Sahara proves good intentions, but that many companies chose to ignore the Norwegian government's policy.

"Therefore we feel it is about time to start considering an explicit embargo against trade in goods from, and investments in, Western Sahara occupied by Morocco", he said. 

New report: Western Sahara phosphate trade halved

The export of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara has never been lower than in 2019. This is revealed in the new WSRW report P for Plunder, published today.

24 February 2020

New report on Western Sahara phosphate industry out now

Morocco shipped 1.93 million tonnes of phosphate out of occupied Western Sahara in 2018, worth an estimated $164 million, new report shows. Here is all you need to know about the volume, values, vessels and clients.

08 April 2019

New report on contentious Western Sahara phosphate trade

Morocco shipped over 1.5 million tonnes of phosphate out of occupied Western Sahara in 2017, to the tune of over $142 million. But the number of international importers of the contentious conflict mineral is waning, WSRW's annual report shows.

25 April 2018

New report on global phosphate trade from occupied Western Sahara

Over 200 million dollars worth of phosphate rock was shipped out of occupied Western Sahara last year, a new report from WSRW shows. For the first time, India is among the top importers.

25 April 2017