US gas to occupied Western Sahara

A shipment of gas from the US is arriving tomorrow in occupied Western Sahara. This is the second time in just a month. 

04 June 2021

Illustration above: Vessel 'Eco Dominator' on its first voyage from the US into Western Sahara. The ship stopped over in Nouakchott, Mauritania, before arriving in the occupied territory. 

A vessel containing what is believed to be gas from the United States is expected to arrive in the city of El Aaiún in occupied Western Sahara on 5 June. The vessel is now steaming northwards from Dakar, Senegal, from where it departed on 2 on June 2021. It is most likely still containing parts of the gas cargo that it had picked up in the United States last month. 

This is the second time that the same vessel, Eco Dominator, undertakes such a trip in just a month. On 5 May, the vessel docked in El Aaiún with the same type of cargo, picked up in the US, after a stopover in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Eco Dominator in a gas terminal in New Jersey, between the two voyages undertaken into the occupied territory with US gas.

The cargo was on both occasions loaded in Crab Point, Paulsboro, New Jersey. The location is on the shore of Delaware River, close to the city of Philadelphia. 

According to US customs, the vessel Eco Dominator registered "All other Senegalese ports" as import destination as it departed the US on 19 May 2021. No mention was made of subsequent offloading in Western Sahara of parts of the cargo. 

Earlier this week, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) published an overview of the gas transports into occupied Western Sahara for the calendar year 2020. WSRW already made a similar study for 2019. In the material that WSRW has collated so far, no shipments from the US have been identified. 

From what WSRW has been able to identify, the trend has been that Southern Europe has been exporting gas to Western Sahara in the past, and that the trend shifted to Northern Europe in 2020, with the UK as the biggest exporter. 

Incidents of US gas to Western Sahara, however, have not been recorded by WSRW before.  

Occupied Western Sahara is seemingly part of a larger West African market for the US gas. In addition to the Eco Dominator serving Dakar, Nouackhott and El Aaiún over the past five weeks, the LPG tanker Eco Nical arrived at Nouakchott, Mauritania, on 31 May 2021. The latter shipment was picked up on 17 May 2021 from the same gas terminal in Paulsboro, New Jersey. 

The Eco Dominator (IMO 9789532) and Eco Nical (IMO number 9746774) are part of a fleet operated by the Greek shipping company Stealth Corp, which is one of the two companies carrying out near all such transports into Western Sahara. The company was contacted regarding the practice on 25 April 2020 and 5 June 2020, but the letters were not responded to. 

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