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Putin's 'Shadow Fleet' Goes Down Drain

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Putin's 'Shadow Fleet' Goes Down Drain

Tanker owners refuse to carry Russian oil because of US sanctions.

Russian oil producers have found it difficult to get tankers to carry their barrels after the US began imposing sanctions against the Kremlin's "shadow fleet" and launched an investigation covering three dozen ship carriers around the world, finanz writes.

Oil companies that export through Baltic Sea ports cannot find ships to carry some of their cargoes with November shipments, a trader working in the region told Reuters.

The agency's four shipping industry sources said three major Greek tanker companies - Minerva Marine, Thenamaris and TMS Tankers - have refused to work with Russian oil.

The Greek shipping magnates, which own a fleet of 100 tankers capable of handling almost all export oil from Russia's western ports of Primorsk, Ust-Luga and Novorossiysk, have been carrying Russian barrels for decades and continued to do so even after almost all Western companies withdrew from the market.

However, the US decision to impose sanctions on five tankers carrying Russian oil at prices above the $60 ceiling has changed the situation. "While there is no shortage of oil tankers yet, the oil products market has already started to have problems with the physical availability of ships for some dates," the source told Reuters.

According to the agency's interlocutors, there are no disruptions in the supply of oil. However, the cost of tanker freight has soared: it costs $10-11 million to charter a vessel to India, although in early October it was $8 million, and in September it was only $5 million.

Oil producers are forced to rely more and more on the "shadow fleet" - old, scrapped tankers that sail with their transponders switched off to hide from sanctions. Yet traders fear the shortage of vessels could worsen. "The shadow fleet may not be enough to transport all of Russia's oil," the source told Reuters.

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