ATHENS – While the European Union has exempted Russian energy supplies from sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian crude and fuels have been switched between tankers off the coast of Greece.
As least 23 million barrels have been transferred in the Bay of Lakonikos since the start of this year, according to tanker tracking by Bloomberg, Greece saying it can’t intervene because it’s happening in international waters.
In January, the Reuters news agency said that western oil tankers ramped up their shipments of Russian crude as prices fell below an international price cap, the EU still dealing despite condemning the invasion.
The bloc, including Greece, is reliant on Russia for up to 40 percent of its supplies but has been saved by a mild winter in much of the region that saw demand fall, and Greece scrambling to find alternative sources.
The cap allows non-EU countries to import seaborne Russian crude oil, but prohibits Western shipping and insurance companies from handling cargoes of the crude unless it is sold at or below that price.
EU-owned vessels, mostly from Greece, handled more than 2 million tons of Urals crude from Baltic and Black Sea ports in January, over a quarter of Russia’s exports from these ports, the news agency said.
The volume moved by EU ships is nearly twice as much as in December, Reuters calculations based on Eikon and information shared by traders showed, Russian still benefiting during the sanctions.
Greek-owned ships run by Greek management firms handled at least 21 voyages of Russian crude in January to a range of destinations, including those owned by TMS Tankers Management, Stealth Maritime, Kyklades Maritime, Dynacom, Delta Tankers, NGM Energy and New Shipping, according to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking and shipping sources.
NGM said its tanker, the Ace, discharged crude oil in Bulgaria. “Any oil shipments for outside the EU performed post Dec. 5 are permitted and authorized by the EU as they comply with the G7 price cap mechanism,” a company official said via email.