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Oil cap breach fails to stop compliant shipments from Russia

Some 141 of the 300 tankers tracked loading from eight major export ports in Russia had P&I insurance with one of the 12 clubs that are members of the International Group, a proxy for cap compliance

Tankers are providing evidence of compliance even as global prices for crude grades and nearly all refined products from Russia are priced 28% to 50% above the G7 caps that were supposed to hurt Russia

GREECE-owned tankers made up 35% of tankers calling at Russian oil export ports in the Baltic and Black Seas over September, even as global prices for crude and diesel remained significantly above the Group of Seven price cap.

Urals crude shipped from the Baltic and Black Sea is pricing 28% above the $60 per barrel cap imposed by the G7 industrialised nations and Australia. ESPO crude is at $90 per barrel and Sokol grade at $88 per barrel.

Ultra-low sulphur diesel priced in northwest Europe, is now at $1,011 per tonne, equivalent to $135 per barrel. The cap for refined products is $100 per barrel.

Alongside an import ban on Russian oil imposed by the US, UK and EU27, marine service providers from these countries — including shipowners, banks, insurers, and flag registries — can’t ship to third countries unless cargoes comply with the cap.

Some 141 of the 300 tankers tracked loading from eight major export ports in Russia had P&I insurance with one of the 12 clubs that are members of the International Group, a proxy for cap compliance.

Insurance was unknown for the remaining vessels. When measured by deadweight some 53% of all tankers that called at Russia in the first 27 days of September were not with the International Group and therefore not compliant with the G7 cap. That is up from about 30% before the threshold was surpassed.





Diesel and gasoil exports comprised about 1m bpd of January-through-August exports according to data analytics provider Vortexa. 

Exports of gasoline, which prices below the cap,  are estimated at 114,000 bpd, equivalent to about one medium range cargo every two or three days sailing from Russia.

The International Energy Agency estimated total oil exports for Russia in August were 7.2m bpd. 

This is the second month that crude and diesel prices in Russia have priced above the cap since it was imposed on crude last December and refined products in February, providing the first real test of its effectiveness in keeping oil flowing while reducing income to the Kremlin.

Most of the around 80 tankers tracked from Arctic and eastern seaboard ports, where the crude grades are much higher than Urals, were Russian-owned or part of the dark fleet of tankers that operate outside western jurisdiction.

A further 220 that called at five Baltic and Black Sea ports. Tankers that were part of the dark fleet comprised 42% of all calls when measured by deadweight followed by Greek-owned tankers at 35%, Russian owned ships at 7% and those from Turkey at 5%.





IEA figures from September estimated that oil export revenues in August surged by $1.8bn to $17.1bn, the highest since October, 2022.

Until July, Greek-owned vessels had about half of the market share in the Baltic and Black Sea market but this number dipped as cap breaches reduce the volumes of oil they could ship.

The ports covered by Lloyd’s List included Murmansk, Kozmino, di Kastri Terminal, Primorsk, St Petersburg, Ust-Luga, Novorossiysk, and Tuapse

There is no suggestion that Greece-based shipowners or P&I clubs are breaching sanctions.

The International Group insures about 95% of the global fleet and must comply with sanctions.

There were 116 tankers that were defined as being part of the dark fleet that loaded Russia oil over September. 

The fleet of anonymously owned, elderly tankers known as the ‘dark fleet’ has evolved in response to the G7 cap. Of the 116 tankers defined as being part of the dark fleet, 29 had cover with International Group P&I clubs. Along with Greek owners, these vessels would have provided attestations to confirm that the cargo carried was bought at, or below, the price cap.

Among those Greece-owned ships was Tilos I (IMO: 9800271), which loaded a cargo from Kozmino on September 18 and discharged at the Wanhua Shandong Yantai PDH Plant, according to a Lloyd’s List analysis of berths where it arrived.

Tilos I is operated by Dynacom Tankers Management Limited and owned by George Prokopiou. There is no suggestion the vessel breached sanctions and the company was approached for comment.

*Lloyd’s List defines a tanker as part of the dark fleet if it is aged 15 years or over, anonymously owned and/or has a corporate structure designed to obfuscate beneficial ownership discovery, solely deployed in sanctioned oil trades, and engaged in one or more of the deceptive shipping practices outlined by US State Department guidance issued in May 2020. The figures exclude tankers tracked to government-controlled shipping entities such as Russia’s Sovcomflot, or Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Co, and those already sanctioned. Download our explainer on the different risk profiles of the dark fleet here

Lloyd’s List Intelligence Seasearcher subscribers can add the Lloyd’s List dark fleet to their watchlists here

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