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Price cap coalition tightens rules as US slaps out fresh Russian sanctions

New guidelines pile up the administrative burden of red tape on P&I clubs, shipowners and flag registries, who at some stage in the future will all have to receive attestation from their counterparties for each lift of Russian oil

The price cap coalition has introduced tighter guidelines for attestation and price reporting, mirroring some of the requirements included in the EU’s 12th Russian sanctions package. The US complemented the move with fresh sanctions that targeted oil traders for the first time since the crackdown on price cap violations began in October

THE G7 nations and Australia have announced updates to the price cap regime on Russian oil as they seek to restrict sanctions circumventing.

Under the updated guidance, the coalition said it would “soon require” that shipowners, P&I clubs and flag registries receive attestations from their counterparties for each lifting of Russian oil or petroleum products.

In addition, participants with access to ancillary costs like shipping and freight will be required to share this information with participants further down the supply chain upon request.

“These changes will support the implementation of the oil price cap and disrupt circumvention by reducing opportunities for bad actors to use opaque shipping costs to disguise oil purchased above the cap,” the coalition said in a statement.

The move comes as the European Union unveiled its 12th package of Russian sanctions, which introduced new measures mirroring the price cap coalition’s increased scrutiny of ancillary costs, long reported to be a form of widespread evasion to conceal the actual price of oil being sold.

The EU’s requirements come into force on February 20, while the price cap coalition promised to relay guidance to industry and details on the transition period in the coming weeks.

The US complemented the announcement with fresh sanctions targeting Sovcomflot’s UAE-based shipmanager SUN Ship Management (D) Limited, three “obscure oil traders” and a vessel owned by one of them.

It is the first targeting of oil traders since the US began its crackdown on price cap violators in October.

The US Office of Foreign Asset Control, known as Ofac, said the three traders — Hong Kong-based Bellatrix Energy Ltd and Covart Energy Ltd, and UAE-based Voliton DMCC — have all “sharply increased” their share of Russian oil trades since the price cap was imposed last December.

Ofac also blacklisted the Russia-flagged 7,005 dwt Sanar 15 (IMO: 9777670) for being owned by Covart.

The agency said vessels chartered by Covart include HS Atlantica (IMO: 9322839), NS Champion (IMO: 9299719) and Viktor Bakaev (IMO: 9610810), all of which were sanctioned recently for violating the $60 per barrel cap.

“Today’s designations demonstrate our commitment to upholding the principles of the price cap policy, which advance the goals of supporting stable energy markets while reducing Russian revenues to fund its war against Ukraine,” deputy secretary of the US Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.

“Participants in the maritime transport of Russian oil, especially Tier 1 actors like traders, must adhere to the compliance guidelines agreed upon by the price cap coalition or face the consequences.”

Bellatrix, Covart, and Voliton have been 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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