The black tanker market becomes competitive
Data from Vortexa, an energy industry platform, shows that Iran, Russia and Venezuela are all vying to sell oil to Asia. According to the analysis, rising Russian exports of sanctioned crude have forced some Middle Eastern suppliers to cut prices in the face of competition.
The company is tracking 11 tankers – mostly Aframax-sized vessels with deadweight capacities of between 80,000 and 120,000 metric tonnes – that have loaded Russian crude oil during ship-to-ship transfers with the AIS transmitters disabled. Vortexa believes these ships have charged 16 times since April.
“There is now a black market that is becoming significant,” said David Wech, the company’s chief economist. “The need to export crude and products in increasing volumes to long-haul destinations east of Suez, ideally also masking origins to attract potential buyers beyond China and India, could develop well before the entry into force of the sixth package of EU sanctions around the turn of the year.
In 2022, Iran’s oil exports were at their highest since the imposition of sanctions, but have declined since the invasion of Ukraine.
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“As more and more companies forgo shipping Russian crude and products, those familiar with the sanctioned crude trade will continue to use their tankers to help Russia export oil east of Suez,” said crude oil analyst Armen Azizian.
The war in Ukraine created a shift in tanker flows, which led to an increase in the number of ships traveling from the United States to Europe. Tankers are now transporting more oil from North American, Brazilian and Guyanese sources to European consumers.
The extra distance Russian oil has to travel to reach Asia is also contributing to a tanker shortage, and a shrinking tanker fleet could make the problem worse.
EU changes sanction rules
The European Union has announced a relaxation of sanction rules to avoid the need for illicit transfers and reduce the risk of accidents. Under new rules, Russian companies Rosneft and Gazprom will be able to transport oil to third countries without restriction.
Purchases of Russian crude oil by sea by EU companies exporting to third countries are permitted, but changes to sanctions against Russia which come into force on Friday prohibit payments related to such shipments. Major trading companies like Glencore, Shell and Trafigura have stopped buying Russian oil because of these EU sanctions, including restrictions on marine insurance.
“In order to avoid any potential negative consequences for food and energy security worldwide, the EU has decided to extend the exemption from the ban on entering into transactions with certain public entities with regard to transactions in products agriculture and oil transportation. to third countries,” the EU said in a statement on Thursday.
Trading houses told policymakers that the restrictions would have led China and India to buy oil through small private traders and would have encouraged Russian oil to be transported into gray areas with low accident insurance and being manipulated. by older ships that are more prone to spilling oil.
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