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Skuld monitors Sovcomflot sanctions as cargo underwriters self-sanction on Russian exports

War risk insurance market reported steady at last week’s rates, now in typical range for full-scale shooting wars

‘No shipping is being allowed out of Ukrainian ports, but several ships are loaded and ready to go as soon as they are allowed,’ says Lloyd’s source

NORWEGIAN P&I club Skuld, which provides protection and indemnity insurance for Sovcomflot, is monitoring sanctions imposed by multiple jurisdictions on the world’s largest tanker operator by fleet size.

While stopping short of specifying what impact any sanctions have had, chief executive Stale Hansen gave an express commitment that the marine mutual would meet the stipulations of any regulations in this respect.

It comes as war risk insurance rates for calls to southern Russian ports remain broadly unchanged, according to sources in the Lloyd’s and Nordic markets.

There have also been claims that some cargo insurers are becoming reluctant to underwrite Russian exports, probably because of so-called “self-sanctioning” rather than any restrictions on their ability to so, at least as yet.

While Ukrainian ports remain closed, it is reported the war risk insurance market is providing cover for ships calling in Russian ports in proximity to the current fighting in Ukraine.

“Nothing has changed really. Rates are still the same, risk perception is still very high (thus the high rates),” one underwriter said in an email exchange. “No shipping is being allowed out of Ukrainian ports, but several ships are loaded and ready to go as soon as they are allowed.”

Large parts of the region were in February designated “listed areas” subject to additional premiums or “APs” by the Joint War Committee, which represents both the Lloyd’s and London companies market.

The JWC subsequently extended the listed areas to take in inland waters and parts of the high seas that were previously not included, including waters close to Romania and Georgia, and the inland waters of Belarus.

Although there is has been reported reluctance from some underwriters to provide cover at all, those that are willing to write the risk are doing so at 1% to 5% of hull value.

That equates to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per port call, depending on vessel value, and will itself constitute a material disincentive to accept orders to affected ports.

Precedent has established current pricing as the norm for hot shooting wars, although it represents a vast jump on the fraction of a percentage point seen in times of peace.

Market speculation suggested that in one instance, the AP rocketed to 10% of hull value, which some sector veterans suggest may represent an all-time high. But this appears to have been a one-off.

Underwriters will also be mindful that there have already been casualties, including the death of a third engineer on a Bangladeshi bulker off Odessa earlier this month and the sinking of a Panama-flagged general cargoship after it was shelled that same day.

The UK-based Warlike Operations Area Committee has declared a Warlike Operations Area with immediate effect for all Ukrainian, Russian and international waters north of 44°N in the Black Sea.

In consequence of the decision, shipowners are asked to give seafarers the option the option to disembark prior to entering the area, or to receive increased pay if they agree to serve, and to insure their individual risks.

A marine underwriter at Lloyd’s said that some insurers are withdrawing from offering any cover on Russian exports, on the basis that support of these exports will in some way assist the funding of the Russian war effort.

These cargoes are subject to sanctions at this time, and the development appears to be a case of so-called “self-sanctioning”, which has seen many companies throughout the maritime industries, including flags and classification societies, shun Russia-linked business for fear of reputational risk.

Meanwhile, Skuld — the P&I club that handles the bulk of the Sovcomflot account — is considering its position in light of sanctions against Russia’s biggest single shipping company.

US entities are banned from dealing in any SCF debts of longer than 14 days’ maturity or from buying its shares, following a ruling by the Office of Foreign Assets Control last month.

“Skuld is monitoring all new sanctions regulations implemented against Russia by the EU, UK, US and other jurisdictions,” Mr Hansen said. “Skuld will comply with the prohibitions and designations laid down by sanctions regulations applicable to Skuld and act accordingly. We are not able to comment on individual members and accounts.”


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