European cargo ships are scrambling to deliver Russia’s crude while they can, ahead of the new sanctions against Moscow, set to start on 5 December.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Western nations, along with the US, have not used Russian energy or promised to wean off of Russia’s imports. Once the new set of sanctions is in place, the vessels loaded with sanctioned crude will not be able to secure insurance coverage, indicating that their sailing will not be legal anymore.
Since the war started, shipments to India, China, and Saudi Arabia have skyrocketed.
For instance, India went from importing zero barrels per day of Russia’s crude to one million barrels daily over the last month. China has doubled Russia’s crude imports from February to June.
As Europe gears up to halt Russia’s crude deliveries, tanker owners based in Greece have ramped up trade, per a report from Wall Street Journal. While the owners of Greek tankers account for a third of the global fleet, they moved about half of Russia’s crude volumes in May and June.
However, those crude flows are not on the rise. Greek tankers are now going significant distances for shipments, going up to Siberia, typically a destination for Russian and Chinese tankers. A Greece-based shipping executive informed the Journal that tankers may be able to make more money by traveling even further distances.
In the meantime, European tankers are participating in ship-to-ship transfers while at sea, a method that obscures the destination and origin of goods.
According to the report, dozens of such maritime exchanges have happened over the past few months near Greece, with traders adding that some tankers even switch off the transponders to hide their locations.
Besides, since the war hit, a rising volume of Russia’s oil has been sent to “destination unknown” as buyers try to avoid affiliations with Moscow.
Greek firms are providing almost the largest tanker fleet for the transportation of Russia’s oil, per Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Per the Journal, he passed on the information to attendees at a video conference at the beginning of the month.