Oil tankers moored outside an oil depot in the port of Nakhodka in eastern Russia.

(Reuters file photo)

[Compiler Guan Shuping/Comprehensive Report] In order to avoid Western sanctions, Russia has directly or indirectly purchased old oil tankers to form a "shadow fleet" to transport Russian crude oil abroad for sale. According to estimates by brokers and consulting agencies, Russia will In this way, more than 100 tankers have been added.

The "Financial Times" reported on the 3rd that according to estimates by shipping brokerage Braemar, Moscow, which relies heavily on foreign tankers to transport its crude oil, has added more than 100 tankers this year; energy consulting firm Rystad said that Russia has purchased and redeployed supplies for Iran and Iran this year. The number of ships serving Venezuela has increased by 103.

Please read on...

Anoop Singh, head of tanker research at Braemar, said the tankers, which were mostly bought anonymously but could be traced by a large number of unnamed or new buyers appearing on ship registries, were usually 12 to 15 years old Obsolete within a few years.

"These are buyers that we senior brokers are not familiar with. We believe that most of the ships are going to Russia," Singh said.

Traders pointed out that the Kremlin's efforts to form what the crude oil shipping industry calls Russia's "shadow fleet" is an attempt to reduce the impact of new international sanctions on its crude oil, including the European Union's ban on imports of Russian seaborne crude oil that took effect on the 5th. , as well as the upper limit of US$60 per barrel of crude oil imported from Russia, etc. These measures will affect companies such as Lloyd's of London from not being able to insure the delivery of restricted Russian oil.

Russia has always stated that it will not do business with any country that imposes price caps. This position means that the Kremlin may refuse to supply crude oil on Western terms. Instead, it will use the newly formed fleet to try to ship crude oil to India, China and Turkey. China, which is now a big buyer of Russian oil after Europe reduced its purchases.

Braemar informed the International Energy Agency (IEA) last month that Russian-linked ship operators are suspected to have bought as many as 29 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) in 2022; the class of tankers can each carry at least 2 million barrels of crude oil .

Russia may also have added 31 Suezmax tankers, which typically carry 1 million barrels each, and 49 Aframax tankers, each with a capacity of about 700,000 barrels.

Andrei Kostin, chief executive of Russian state bank VTB Bank, apparently confirmed this in October, when he said Russia needed to spend "at least 1 trillion rubles" to "expand the tanker fleet".

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak also said in March that Russia would create its own crude oil "supply chain".

The Kremlin did not respond to the matter on the 2nd.

Craig Kennedy, an expert on Russian crude oil at Harvard University's Davis Center, which tracks the expansion of the Russian fleet, said the number of ships Russia needs to transport all of its crude oil is unimaginable, and the past few months have seen a considerable increase. A number of the ships were sold to unnamed buyers, and many of those tankers turned up in Russia to load within weeks.

But he doubts Moscow will use VLCCs, which are too large to load and unload in Russian ports, even though some of them may be transferred ship-to-ship.