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New EU sanctions expected to tighten price cap and target vessels

Measures included in draft versions of the latest sanctions include banning transactions with sanctioned vessels, introducing notification requirements when a ship is sold and contractual clauses prohibiting shipments above the oil price cap

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirms that oil price cap measures will be tightened and circumvention tactics targeted in the 12th package of EU sanctions set to be unveiled next week

THE European Commission is expected to unveil a 12th package of sanctions against Russia next week that will include actions to tighten the oil price cap and further tighten circumvention tactics employed by third-country companies.

While the details of the latest round of measures are yet to be finalised, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv during the weekend that the latest package will be announced next week.

Speculation over the details to be included have been circulating for several weeks, however senior industry sources have now confirmed that enforcement measures targeting so-called dark fleet vessels are in the draft text still being discussed by EU states. 

According to an early draft of the latest text reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by industry sources, some of the measure include banning transactions with sanctioned vessels, introducing notification requirements when a ship is sold, and contractual clauses prohibiting shipments above the oil price cap.

No further details have yet been revealed and, as with previous packages, details are likely to change as part of the internal EU negotiations before a package is finalised.

Increasing oil-pricing transparency is also being explored to prevent costs of purchased volumes from being shuffled to evade restrictions. The cap price excludes transport costs, meaning that inflated shipment costs can be manipulated to get around sanctions.

Von der Leyen promised “maximum pressure against Russia” in her speech delivered in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“The new sanctions shall include up to 100 new listed individuals, new import and export bans, actions to tighten the oil price cap, and tough measures on third-country companies which circumvent the sanctions,” she said.

Lloyd’s List understands that decisions on the final text of the package are expected to be made at the end of this week.

The move to shore up EU sanctions comes as US officials are understood to be considering further enforcement measures after the US Treasury targeted two tankers last month for violating sanctions. After a period of muted enforcement, US officials are said to be preparing additional actions to reinforce the advisory issued last month alongside the penalties against Marshall Islands-flagged aframax tanker Yasa Golden Bosphorus (IMO: 9334038) and Liberia-flagged suezmax tanker SCF Primorye (IMO: 9421960).

US officials have repeatedly insisted that the price cap, which seeks to simultaneously ensure the flow of Russia’s crude on world markets but also reduce Moscow’s revenue for each barrel it sells, is working.

Russia’s oil and gas revenues in October more than doubled to 1.635trn roubles ($17.63bn) from 739.9bn roubles in September, finance ministry data showed on Friday, thanks to a cyclical rise in profit-based tax.

According to Reuters, the oil and gas sales, which have accounted for more than 28% total Russian budget proceeds so far his year, also rose by 27.5% from October 2022.

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