Alexey Gromov, Principal Director on Energy Studies of the Institute for Energy and Finance, commented to the weekly magazine Profile on the prospects of using the "shadow" fleet to circumvent Western sanctions on Russian oil exports.
Russia's "shadow fleet" could number around 600 ships, or 10% of the world's large tankers, Bloomberg wrote.
According to Aleksey Gromov, the size of the “shadow fleet” referred to in the media is quite “in line with expectations”. But this does not mean that all 600 ships in one form or another belong to Russia. Tankers may be owned by companies from the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Middle East. A significant part of the vessels (mainly supertankers and VLCC class tankers) is probably owned by China, some by Indians. Part of this fleet, according to the expert, was previously engaged in the transportation of Iranian oil, but now they have switched to Russian raw materials, as domestic companies offer more favorable conditions.
Transshipment can be carried out in the open ocean outside of any jurisdiction, for example, in the Azores. True, it is this point, according to the expert, that is now used to a limited extent due to unstable weather conditions and frequent storms. Therefore, more often, zones in the Mediterranean are chosen for transshipment, for example, the waters near the ports of Ceuta and Kalamata.
But the question arises how, in the era of satellites and total surveillance, such operations can be kept secret, especially since the tanker is not a grain of sand. According to Gromov, there are enough ways. Vessels may disable transponders and other means of objective control placed on board. Moreover, it is enough to turn off the transponder only for the time of pumping Russian oil, "then you can turn it on again and go where you need to." This trick has been practiced for many years in the Iranian oil trade: there is a tanker, it carries oil, but it is formally impossible to prove its origin.
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