The EU targets Russian crude oil smugglers and the “shadow fleet”

There is rising optimism that the “shadow fleet” transferring Moscow’s oil illegally can be stopped.

According to officials and diplomats, a European Union initiative to remove legal loopholes that allow Russian oil to enter the European Union is receiving widespread backing from the EU member states, POLITICO reported.

Representatives from the twenty-seven member nations met on May 11 to discuss technical aspects of the 11th package of sanctions against Russia, the Bloc’s response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to three sources with knowledge of the talks, there is no significant opposition to tightening current oil bans, even from nations thought to gain from unreported imports of Russian oil.

“Of course, this package is different from the others, focusing on circumvention, and it will have a different impact, so we are taking our time to look at all the proposals,” said to POLITICO an EU official from a nation that has been under pressure to energy links with Russia.

A draft of the recommendations for the sanctions package from the European Commission, seen by the newspaper, aims at preventing ships covertly transporting Russian oil from entering the ports of the EU. This measure targets the so-called “shadow fleet” of old tankers carrying Russian oil after the EU outlawed the import of Russian oil and oil-related products in connection with a price cap set by the G7 in March.

Due to a lack of available ships, Russia is compelled to transport its oil via tankers from other nations. According to S&P Global research, the Greek government is believed to possess a large portion of that fleet. According to the proposed penalties proposal, some ships are disabling their transponders and GPS to avoid being spotted.

New regulations would give the government the right to deny access to “vessels that are suspected or found in breach of the ban on importing Russian crude oil and petroleum products into the Union and of the G7 agreed price cap by engaging in shimmying practices” given the sharp increase in fraudulent conduct, and associated environmental risks, by vessels transporting Russian oil and petroleum products to circumvent the sanctions. 

The oil-related restrictions are a component of a broader package of sanctions that is anticipated to target China and Iran as well as other third-party trading partners of Russia. An extension to the package will also target particular nations and goods. Its goal is to make sure that sanctions from prior rounds have a more significant impact on the Russian economy and limit Moscow’s capacity to continue its cruel war against Ukraine.

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