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Shipping company in the countercurrent

"We do not take a position on internal conflicts and have neither the opportunity nor the desire to debate this," says the director of the shipping company that their vessels have transported phosphate from Western Sahara.


In July last year, Bergens Tidende revealed that the shipping company Spar Shipping leases the ship "Spar Capella", which this summer transported phosphate in Western Sahara to the leading fertilizer producer Agrium, which the Government Pension Fund (the Oil Fund) owns. At that time, the CEO of the company Jarle Ellefsen stated that he neither knew about the situation in Western Sahara nor was aware that the ship was participating in trade in the area. He also stated that the companies would discuss their position internally in the Western Sahara case, and that he was aware that the authorities do not advise activity in the areas.

The Support Committee for Western Sahara has subsequently been in contact with the shipping company, which in January made it clear that they do not change their practice in the areas. In an email Ny Tid has been given access to, Ellefsen goes a long way in rejecting the problem: "The premise that one should exclude transports out of Western Sahara seems strange in the first place, because then all trade stops. What should one live on then? We do not take a position on internal conflicts, and have neither the opportunity nor the desire to debate this. We mainly rent out our ships, and what choices the charterers then make, will in principle be up to them – given that it is within the legal framework stipulated in the charter party at all times, "writes Ellefsen in the email.

The exemption. Spar Shipping is not a member of the Bergen Shipowners' Association, and the association's leader Øystein Meland therefore does not want to comment on the matter. However, Meland says that the Shipowners Association supports the Norwegian authorities 'advice, and that they encourage their members to follow the guidelines and recommendations of the Shipowners' Association.
Erik Hagen of the Western Sahara Support Committee can say that Spar Shipping's reaction is contrary to the reactions of the other shipping companies that have been made aware of the use of vessels in Western Sahara: "The other shipping companies we have been in contact with have responded very responsibly and well. Spar Shipping is the exception that confirms the rule for a responsible Norwegian shipping industry, ”says Hagen.
Ny Tid has several times tried to get in touch with the CEO of the company Jarle Ellefsen for a comment, but has so far not succeeded. An employee of the company who does not want to give his name, however, makes the following comment the second time Ny Tid calls: "There are many allegations about us, but you should not believe everything you hear. We are a small company and we can not close the store just because you need answers. "

Also read the related main issue about the Petroleum Fund's interests in the occupied territories.

Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Former journalist for MODERN TIMES.

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