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Denmark Closes Busy Oil Shipping Strait Over Faulty Missile Launcher

The National Maritime Authority of Denmark has closed down the Great Belt strait–a key shipping venue for Russia’s shadow sanctions-busting oil fleets–after the Danish navy activated a faulty missile launcher, endangering traffic. 

The missile launcher was activated and could not be deactivated, prompting the Danish authorities to bar access, which blocks access to the Baltic Sea, citing the risk of “falling missile fragments”, Reuters reports. 

"Until the missile launcher is deactivated, there is a risk that the missile can fire and fly a few kilometers away," Reuters quoted the Danish military as saying. While the Great Belt bridge remains open across the strait, part of the strait some 2.5 miles from the bridge remains closed to shipping traffic. 

Under international law, the Danish Straits cannot be closed to foreign vessels except in cases where there is some violation of international marine pollution regulations, according to Danish law firm Gorrissen Federspiel. The law firm notes that “EU sanctions against Russia are difficult to enforce in the Danish Straits under international law.” 

The Danish Straits are the main passageway between the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Well over 3 million barrels of oil per day go through the Danish Strait. 

On March 2, the Andromeda Star oil tanker collided with another vessel in the Danish Strait. While the tanker was empty and on its way to load Russian oil under sanctions, the incident has led to concerns about the dangers of Russia’s shadow fleet oil sanctions-busting oil tankers. 

Trafigura estimates that Russia’s shadow fleet encompasses some 600 vessels. All are said to be older vessels captained by inexperienced sailors and crews. Passing through the treacherous Danish Straits, the EU is concerned that these vessels represent a pending ecological disaster. 

Traditionally, prior to EU sanctions on Russian seaborne crude, some 60% of Russia's seaborne oil exports were loaded on the eastern Baltic Sea, near the Russian city of St. Petersburg. From the Baltic Sea, those oil tankers must pass through the Danish Great Belt, which features treacherous bends, shoals, and poor visibility, according to the Maritime Executive.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on April 04 2024 said:
    There will be a problem for oil in the USA if "coal rolling" starts to really catch on. Already Ford Maverick pickup truck sales are soaring so fuel demand in the USA continues to plunge despite the USA now being clearly the World's largest energy producer and exporter along with being as usual the World's largest industrial economy. Long $unp Union Pacific Railroad strong buy

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