Cepsa, Repsol silent on controversial exports

The Spanish oil companies Cepsa and Repsol continue exporting petroleum products into occupied Western Sahara.

23 March 2022

Picture: The French tanker Mayoury observed in the port of Cartagena, Spain, on 18 August 2021. That day, the ship picked up a cargo of petroleum at Repsol's refinery, for transports to both Dakhla and El Aaiún in occupied Western Sahara.  

The two Spanish oil companies Cepsa and Repsol keep sending petroleum products into Western Sahara from their refineries in Spain. 

An overview that Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has made of such shipments into the territory, reveals that nearly all of the products come from the two companies' terminals in Spain. 

Around half a million tonnes of petroleum products arrived in occupied Western Sahara during the calendar year of 2021. 

The calculation for that amount is based on the travel routes of 26 different vessels that are highly likely to have transported such cargo into the territory during that year. The vessels stopped a total of 86 times in El Aaiún and 68 times in the port or anchorage area of Dakhla. Some of the import incidents included calls to both two ports. At least 133 of the 154 shipments into the territory came directly from one of the two companies' terminals in Spain. 

Petroleum products are essential for Morocco to maintain its occupation of the territory. The petroleum products arriving in Western Sahara serve primarily to fuel vehicles, engines and vessels that take part in the illegal plunder of the territory, or used for military purposes by the Moroccan army.

The total quantity of oil transported into occupied Western Sahara during 2021 is estimated at 471.507 tonnes. The calculation is based on the size of each vessel and its shipment route. In addition, the changes in draught have been taken into account. A draught explains the distance from the waterline down to the bottom of the vessel, and changes in this distance explain a vessel’s discharging or loading.  

WSRW has asked Cepsa to comment on the shipments in a letter on 21 February. The company responded that “we supply hydrocarbons for distribution in the Saharawi territory, which are fully permitted”. The company noted to WSRW that “we are not commenting further”, when asked which country's laws and institutions they referred to. WSRW has also written to Cepsa in 2014, 2017 and 2018. A short response from the company on 8 November 2018 failed to respond to the questions asked to that point.

WSRW wrote to Repsol on 21 February 2022. The letter was not responded to. 

The volume of petroleum products shipped into Western Sahara in 2021 is similar to the one that WSRW observed for the year 2020, but lower from the one that WSRW reported for 2019. The reason for the decrease from 2019 to 2020 can potentially be attributed to far more conservative WSRW methodology for calculating cargo onboard the vessels, applied from the year 2020 onwards. 

Turning to the involved shipping companies involved, two companies stick out as being more  implicated than others: 

  • The most involved, by far, is the French shipping company Sogestran, controlling the tanker Mayoury. In 2021, the ship accounted for a third of all petroleum shipped into the territory. The company has not responded to WSRW/APSO letters since 2017, including letters from 2020 or 2022.
  • Wisby Tankers from Sweden has for several years owned a handful of Norwegian-flagged vessels that have shipped petroleum. In 2021, one of their vessels, Wisby Cedar, was sold, renamed to Cedar, and switched flag from Norwegian to Moroccan. However, it continued on taking the same route after the ownership change. The company has not responded to letters. The Swiss organisation terre des hommes wrote the manager of Cedar, ABC Maritime AG, on 14 March 2022.

The article continues under the table.

The overview can also be downloaded here. 


It is possible that the overview is not complete, and that certain arrivals have escaped WSRW’s attention.

Cepsa has been behind the largest transports, from its refineries in Algeciras, Carteya Guadarranque, Huelva, Tenerife, whereas Repsol has shipped from the port of Cartagena. It is not yet known to WSRW which company is behind the exports from Las Palmas to Western Sahara. 

In addition to transports from Cepsa's and Repsol's refineries in Spain, there were also possible exports from the French ports of Fos-sur-Mer and Berre, as well as from Jorf Lasfar (Morocco), Agadir (Morocco), Nouadhibou (Mauritania) and Nouakchott (Mauritania).

The 26 petroleum tankers involved in the transports for the calendar year 2021 are: Alice N, Alpha, Anuket Jade, Anuket Ruby, Atlantis Alhambra, Atlantis Alicante, B. Atlantic, B. Sun, Bice Amoretti, Bomar Haumea, Bomar Mars, Cedar, Dacil, Ganges Star, Imrikly, LS Chistine, Mayoury, Med Baltic/FT Quinto, Nivaria, Panarea M, R.C Behar, Sichem Amethyst (Irene DP), Tingis, Tuvaq W, Vulcanello M, Wisby Argan and Wisby Cedar.

The tankers fly the following flags: Malta (10), Italy (3), Marshall Islands (3), Morocco (3), Norway (2), Spain (2), France (1), Liberia (1), Panama (1), Portugal (1).

It can also be noted that two tankers that were previously very actively involved are no longer taking part in the trade from 2021: 

  • The Turkish vessel ASC, which was in the fleet of Turkish shipping company Torlak Shipping.
  • The vessel Imrikly, which was no longer active after it was sold to the Greek shipping company Seaven, and changed name to Seaven Hope.

WSRW has made a similar overview of petroleum exports for the calendar years 2020 and 2019.


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