Three major Greek shipping firms have halted transport of Russian crude in recent weeks due to the heightened risk of facing U.S. sanctions, Reuters has reported.
Greek shippers Minerva Marine, TMS Tankers and Thenamaris have stopped carrying Russian oil to customers in the Middle East, Asia, Turkey, Africa and South America, although traders have reported that Moscow still had enough shipping firms for now.
The three firms have been among the most active shippers of Russian oil and fuels but have lately scaled down their involvement. The three companies operate more than 100 oil tankers with enough capacity to handle almost all the oil exports from Russia's European ports of roughly 10 million tonnes a month or 2.4 million barrels per day.
"The dark fleet might not be enough to transport all of Russian oil," a trader involved in Russian oil shipping has told Reuters. ‘‘Dark fleet" refers to the emergence of shippers that move oil from Russia and Iran, but are not covered by Western insurance.
Last year, Washington imposed sanctions on owners of tankers in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates carrying Russian oil after buying above the G7's price cap of $60 a barrel. Last week, it imposed more sanctions on three ships.
Greece emerged as a new hub for Russian oil via ship-to-ship (STS) loadings after the U.S. and Europe slapped heavy sanctions on Russian crude. Shipments of Russian crude and fuel oil reached several multiples higher at the height of the trade than volumes before the sanctions. However, Greek shippers started cutting their volumes of Russian crude after the price of Urals surpassed the US$60/bbl price cap for the first time in July.
According to Argus Media, Greek tanker operators cut volumes of Russian crude by 482,000 bbls in July, with Russian crude falling to 35% of all cargoes compared to 45% in the previous months. With Russian crude now more costly, Chinese buyers have increasingly been turning to other markets which further disincentivizes Greek operators from remaining in the Russian trade due to the complications of remaining sanctions-compliant.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.