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Russia Has a New Hotspot For Ship-to-Ship Oil Transfers in the Mediterranean

Following a clampdown in Greece, ship-to-ship transfers of Russian oil have moved further west in the Mediterranean, just off the eastern end of Morocco’s coast on the Mediterranean, according to vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

The newly discovered spot for ship-to-ship (STS) transfers highlights the fact that operators and traders continue to find ways to skirt sanctions and haul Russian crude oil and petroleum products to international markets.

Last month, the Greek Navy held exercises in the Laconian Gulf in southern Greece, and effectively banned all ship traffic there. The area has been a notorious spot for STS transfers of Russian crude and products since the EU slapped embargoes on these and the bloc, together with G7 and the United States, enacted a price cap on Russian oil if it is to use Western shipping, insurance, and financing services.

Greece announced in May a naval exclusion zone in international waters in the Laconian Gulf, which has disrupted Russian oil transfers.

“This strategic area, notorious for ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of Russian oil, has become a critical battleground in the enforcement of global sanctions against Moscow,” MarineTraffic reported.

Greece issued three such advisories in May, suggesting that it seeks to disrupt the illicit STS activities, “although there has been no official statement that this is the intended purpose of the exclusion zone,”

Risk & Compliance Analyst Dimitris Ampatzidis wrote.

As a result, traders have moved the STS activity to the Moroccan coast, where at least three Aframax tankers, loaded with Urals from Russia’s Baltic port of Primorsk in May, have recently arrived to transfer the Russian flagship crude onto larger vessels, according to the data monitored by Bloomberg.


Spain and the EU have also clamped down on STS transfers near Ceuta, the Spanish enclave on the North African coast, over the past few months.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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