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The Tamoil Group is a downstream oil company formerly controlled by its Libyan-owned holding company Oilinvest, until the latter was wound up in March 2011 following the uprising in Libya, theoretically leaving the company without an ultimate owner.[1]

The Group is present in several European countries and in all parts of the downstream oil industry, including: the supply and trading of crude oil and refined products; shipping; refining of crude oil; storage and distribution; marketing and retailing; lubricants; and bunkering. They operate refineries in Italy (Cremona), and Switzerland (Collombey).[2] In 2007, Tamoil owned more than 3,000 service stations in Europe, mainly located in Italy, as well as oil refineries in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany.[3]


Historically, Libya's international downstream operations have been carried out via two sister companies, known as Tamoil Europe and Tamoil Africa. The ultimate holding entity for Tamoil Europe was Oilinvest (Holdings), registered in the Dutch Caribbean territory of Curaçao. Oilinvest (Netherlands) controls 8 direct subsidiaries registered in Italy, Switzerland, Cyprus, Britain, Germany and Monaco. A number of additional companies are held through an indirect Dutch subsidiary, Tamoil Beheer.

Libya's acquisition of the Tamoil brand in 1988 formed part of a pattern of national oil companies buying refining and marketing assets in developed markets to serve as an outlet for their crude oil production. Oilinvest originally functioned as a front for the Libyan government, with the National Oil Corporation (NOC) holding a 70 percent stake alongside the Libyan Arab External Bank (15%) and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), with 15%.[4]

In 2007 Tamoil was on the verge of being bought out by US private equity firm Colony Capital in a deal valued at $5.4 billion. The Libyan government would have maintained a 35 percent stake in the company.[5] However in March 2008 then head of the LIA Mohammed Layas announced that the deal had been cancelled and that the Libyan government had signed a deal transferring ownership of Tamoil holding company Oilinvest to the recently founded LIA.[6]

Impact of 2011 International Sanctions

In the wake of civil unrest in Libya in 2011, the Tamoil Group was told it was not covered by EU sanctions imposed against the Libyan nation and could operate independently despite the measures, due to its complex ownership structure.[7]

However, despite exemption from official sanctions, many partners such as Shell and BP halted supplies of fuel to Tamoil service stations, resulting in the Group bringing forward closure at its Swiss refinery for planned maintenance. In addition, Tamoil did not succeed in escaping the effect of sanctions in Africa, where Uganda announced in March that it would freeze Tamoil East Africa's $375 million of assets in the country.

Significantly, in late March 2011 the holding company Oilinvest was wound up, severing connections between the LIA and Tamoil. It therefore became unclear the influence the Libyan government now held over the company.[8]A further setback came in September 2011, when the contract for the construction of the African Eldoret Kampala pipeline was cancelled. The Kenyan and Ugandan governments cited that they had lost confidence in the firm's ability to carry out operations after the fall of Gaddafi's regime, which had pledged to finance over 70 percent of the costs.[9] The exact nature of the ownership of Tamoil remained unresolved as of October 2011.

External LInks

Official website: www.tamoil.com


  1. Tamoil Faces Sanctions As Holding Company Wound Up”. PennEnergy, 01 April 2011.
  2. Tamoil's Activities in Europe”. Tamoil, retrieved 18 October 2011.
  3. Libya's Tamoil bought by US firm”. BBC News, 6 June 2007.
  4. Tamoil Faces Sanctions As Holding Company Wound Up”. PennEnergy, 1 April 2011.
  5. Libya's Tamoil bought by US firm”. BBC News, 6 June 2007.
  6. Libya cancels sale of Tamoil to US firm”. High Beam Research, 04 March 2008.
  7. Libya's Tamoil Says It's Not Under EU Sanctions”. Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2011.
  8. Tamoil Faces Sanctions As Holding Company Wound Up”. PennEnergy, 01 April 2011.
  9. Tamoil Oil Pipeline Contract Cancelled”. AllAfrica, 06 September 2011.