USA biggest gas supplier to the occupied territory

For the first time, the USA is the biggest exporter of gas into Western Sahara. 

24 May 2023


Corpus Christi in Texas, USA. That is the port in the world that ships most gas into occupied Western Sahara. 36% of all gas that fuelled the occupation of Western Sahara during the calendar year of 2022 originates from Corpus Christi. This is the conclusion of Western Sahara Resource Watch's (WSRW) daily monitoring of ship movements for last year. 

In total, 13 cargos of liquified butane gas found their way to El Aaiún in occupied Western Sahara in 2022. Based on analysis of the vessels' routes and draughts, WSRW estimates the total cargo of around 47,000 tonnes of gas, equivalent to the year before. The transports were made by ten different so-called LPG tankers. 

Four of the vessels departed from Texas during the year, containing a combined approximately 17,300 tonnes of gas, our estimations show, or a total of 36.3 percent of all the gas. The gas was loaded on dock number 3 of the Buckeye Texas Hub Terminal.

Exports of gas from the US into occupied Western Sahara is a relatively new phenomenon. The first gas shipment that WSRW ever observed from the US was in April 2021. During that year, four shipments in total were undertaken to the territory, with an estimated cargo of 9,500 tonnes. This all took place from Paulsboro, New Jersey. WSRW confronted the probable exporter, but received no response. The 2022 exports from Texas started in January that year, onboard a Turkish-flagged vessel.

Exports also took place from France, Spain, UK, Malta, Belgium and Croatia over the course of 2022. The total volume of imports was approximately the same as in 2021, 2020 and 2019.  

Morocco does not produce gas but is, according to Index Mundi, a top-tier importer and consumer of butane gas. Much of that gas is spent fueling the machinery of occupation in Western Sahara. The gas is imported to uphold critical infrastructure and industries for its illegal occupation.

The imported gas enters the territory on tanker ships specifically made to transport liquified gas (LPG).

As in previous years, two shipping companies stand out as most responsible in the transports:

  • The most involved is the Singaporean/Norwegian/Danish shipping company BW Epic Kosan (BWEK, formerly Epic Gas). 7 of the 13 shipments were onboard vessels of the BWEK fleet Epic Shikoku, Epic Salina, Epic Sicily, Westminster and Tracey Kosan. WSRW expects that approximately 26.800 of the 47.000 tonnes were carried on BWEK ships. The Norwegian Support Committee has written to BW Epic Kosan and BW Group seven times from 2020 to 2023 (including 30 September 2021), but without receiving an answer.
  • The Eco fleet is operated by the Greek shipping company Stealth Corp. The company was contacted regarding the practice on 25 April 2020 and 5 June 2020, but the letters were not responded to.

From what WSRW understands, the JS Jaguar (IMO 9578024) is listed with registered Owner Dragon Jaguar Pte Ltd and group owner Standard Chaterted Bank Plc, UK. Kingston (IMO 9652741) is listed with registered owner Windermere Shipping Pte Ltd in Singapore and with group owner Komaya Shipping Co Pte Ltd also in Singapore.

The article continues under the table.

Download the overview (pdf).

The involved vessels in 2022 were Beylerbeyi, Eco Nical, Eco Stream, Epic Salina, Epic Shikoku, Epic Sicily, JS Jaguar, Kingston, Tracey Kosan and Westminster. The tankers are registered in Turkey, Singapore, Denmark, Marshall Islands, 

The list above shows the port that WSRW expects that the gas was exported from, but doesn't reflect the actual origin of the gas. Shipments from A Coruña in Spain are most likely from a terminal belonging to Repsol - a company which failed to respond to a February 2022 letter from WSRW

Whereas the Netherlands was the prime exporter of such gas into Western Sahara in 2021, no gas was exported from the Netherlands in 2022. Nor were there export incidents from Norway, which exported in 2020. In 2020, two exporting companies - from Norway and Austria - explained they would never again carry out such exports.  


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