Millions of barrels of oil and oil products of Russian origin are being transferred from one tanker to another off the coast of Greece. Transshipment of oil on the high seas has become one of the main ways to legally circumvent the current sanctions on oil and oil products. This is reported by Bloomberg with reference to the data of maritime traffic of ships and tankers.
The agency notes that since the beginning of 2023, at least 23 million barrels of oil and oil products from Russia have been transshipped in the Greek Lakonikos Gulf. Transshipment of oil helps Russian companies cut logistics costs: smaller vessels load giant tankers, which are then sent to buyers. This makes it possible to reduce the logistical leverage in the face of a limited number of ships and their volumes, and at the same time not violate sanctions if oil and oil products are sold at prices within the ceiling set by the West.
The Greek authorities complain that they cannot do anything, since the oil is transshipped not in their territorial waters, but in international ones. However, the situation has already attracted the attention of European authorities. European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said the European Commission will pay attention to such trading practices and find a solution to the problems caused by Russia's desire to mitigate the effects of sanctions against it.
“For sanctions to be effective, it’s one thing, of course, to make decisive political decisions, and another thing to monitor the implementation of sanctions so that they are effectively applied,” he said in a long answer to a question about activities near Greece, although he did not mention country in your response.
Greece's fears are connected not only with the circumvention of sanctions, but also with the environment: Russia is actively using its "shadow fleet", the main part of which is already quite old ships, the oldest of them - 1997 release. The maintenance and insurance of such vessels raises questions from the Greek authorities, since any incident on the high seas with oil products can lead to an environmental disaster.
In the bay, for example, there is a special protection zone for sea turtles and a special area for feeding seabirds, which may suffer in the event of force majeure. The average age of ships in the "shadow fleet" is 18 years. For comparison: the average age of the Greek fleet, which was used to supply Russian oil, is much younger - 12 years.
At the same time, the Spanish authorities have already faced a similar problem. Not far from the territorial waters in the African enclave of Spain - Ceuta - ships with Russian oil in the same way organized the transshipment of oil on the high seas. However, the Spanish authorities identified the companies that carried out the transit of oil and demanded that they stop this practice, as a result, the number of such incidents decreased significantly. The agency notes that the European authorities are thinking about introducing uniform rules for such practices.