Russia Evades US Sanctions By Shipping Oil In Iranian Tankers

Iran has been deploying more vessels to form a “ghost fleet” to transport Russian oil as the Western sanctions on Moscow’s crude intensify.

About 16 vessels in the “ghost” network – which has permitted Iran to evade the US sanctions – have started carrying Russia’s oil over two months. Earlier, just nine tankers were shifted to Russia’s route since the start of the war in Ukraine.

In the meantime, the volume of Russia’s crude shipped on the “ghost”; vessels has surged to over 9 million barrels by January from about 3 million barrels in November, per an FT report.

Russian Oil On Iranian Tankers
Image for representation purposes only

Russia, Venezuela, and Iran— all nations burdened with US sanctions — are competing to sell oil to China and India, a Vortexa analyst mentioned. Asia is a crucial buyer of Russia’s oil as the nation invaded Ukraine in 2022, purchasing the commodity at steep discounts. 

The sales have been bolstered by shipping majors, who are willing to deploy methods like ship-to-ship transfers and even going dark to minimize the risks related to detection.

This month, Moscow was hit with a new wave of EU sanctions on refined oil products like diesel. It is also expected to experience a new price cap on the fuel, adding to a December ban on Russian seaborne oil.

Per an existing price cap on Russia’s crude, G7 nations have reportedly banned other countries from accessing shipping and insurance services unless they abide by a cap on refined products. 

The measure aims at limiting Moscow’s ability to fund a war against Ukraine while keeping Russia’s oil flowing through the global markets to prevent a shortage.

“Everyone is a sinner now”, a shipbroker reported to the FT. She added that the fine line between the grey and the conventional tanker market has turned out to be blurrier over the past year. Per the FT, Russia has been trying to lure shipowners and operators with unexpected premium rates at least 50% above regular market rates.

References: Yahoo News, Business Insider

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