Russian oil tankers ‘go dark’ in Putin’s latest sanctions-busting ruse

Those shipments then went on to destinations like China and India, which bought Russian crude oil at deep discounts. Russia’s Ural Blend sold about $35 a barrel lower than Brent.

Together, they suggest that the operators have been looking for clandestine ways to ship Russian oil without attracting the attention of Western authorities.

Windward chief executive Ami Daniel said transporting Russian oil has become “very, very profitable” since the conflict began.

He warned ship operators that it could get darker less often as the European Union cracked down on Russian oil.

Mr Daniel said: “It might help you for a trip, for a trade, but in the long term [it’s] probably not a good idea.”

He added that transferring oil between ships “is a good way to go off the radar or make it a lot harder to pick you up,” noting that similar methods have been used to transport sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan oil.

Windward also noted a “growing trend” for Russian oil companies to sell their ships to non-Russian companies, another way to avoid scrutiny.

Since the beginning of the invasion, ownership of 180 such ships has changed from Russian units to non-Russian units – roughly twice as fast as in 2021.

Mr Daniel said: “I don’t think they are relinquishing control.”

Opec ramps up production as Biden ramps up pressure

Oil cartel Opec is set to ramp up production in July and August after its largest member, Saudi Arabia, gave in to pressure from the White House as the Russian invasion of Ukraine squeezes supplies and sends prices soaring.

Opec has agreed to increase production by 648,000 barrels per day over the two months, versus a planned increase of 432,000 barrels, amid fears new sanctions on the Kremlin could fuel an energy shortage.

Saudi Arabia in particular has benefited from inflated oil prices, with national oil giant Aramco fleetingly overtaking Apple as the world’s most valuable company last month, valued at more than $2.4 trillion (£1.9 trillion).

Oil has traded above $100 a barrel for most of March and hit a two-year record of $120 this week before settling around $112.

With extraction costs in Saudi Arabia the lowest in the world, the country is seeing large inflows of profits and has defied previous calls to increase production.

While demand is high compared to supply, prices are yet to set new records.

The EU struck a deal with the UK on Tuesday to ban insurance ships carrying Russian oil, excluding Moscow from Lloyd’s of London’s vital market.

Without insurance, oil tankers are unlikely to risk shipping the fuel to countries where it has not been sanctioned, putting further pressure on production.

As a result of the sanctions, Russia is threatened with the deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to government analysis, the Russian economy is expected to suffer £256 billion in damage from the sanctions, with its GDP expected to contract by up to 15 percent this year.

Due to limited storage space, small increases in supply can have a large impact on oil prices.

Before its war against Ukraine, Russia produced about 10 percent of the world’s crude oil.

Opec’s decision comes after an ongoing White House charm offensive, which has seen senior diplomats lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, the Financial Times reported.

American and European leaders are keen that high energy costs do not choke off delicate recoveries in economies around the world recovering from Covid lockdowns and the ensuing supply chain chaos and inflationary wave. Russian oil tankers ‘go dark’ in Putin’s latest sanctions-busting ruse

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