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Greece Becomes Top Destination for Russian Fuel Tankers

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Korchagina oil field in Russia. Credt: Pavel Gurenchuk/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 3.0

The number of tankers carrying Russian fuel that arrived in Greece in April reached record-breaking highs, indicating that the country’s waters have become a top destination for transporting Russian fuel.

According to a report by Reuters, arrivals of ships carrying fuel from Russia in Greece doubled in April compared to March, and this month’s figures may break April’s record of almost one million tons of fuel.

Once arriving in Greek ports, the tankers carrying Russian fuel then go on to export the product to other countries around the world by way of ship-to-ship transfer.

The bulk of the Russian oil that reached Greece went through the port at the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese.

Record numbers of Russian fuel arrivals in Greece in April

According to Reuters, the country is frequently used as a destination for exporting fuel to countries across the world, but the amount of activity was especially high last month compared to average figures.

A tanker called “Evridiki,” which has a capacity of around 130,000 tons, loaded up on Russian fuel off of Kalamata and then traveled to the United Arab Emirates. The ship “Okeanos” similarly took on a cargo of Russian fuel off of Kalamata and is en route to India with the shipment.

The use of ship-to-ship export is one of many ways that companies are trying to avoid breaching the European Union’s strict set of sanctions regarding the purchase of Russian fuel.

According to guidelines recently released by the EU, European companies can continue to purchase Russian oil and gas by opening a bank account even at Russian banks, such as Gazprombank, and paying for the fuel in whatever currency was agreed upon in their contracts.

Putin had previously asserted that foreign companies must pay for oil and gas in rubles as the Russian currency’s value fell due to sanctions. Poland and Bulgaria were cut off from Russian gas in April after refusing to pay in rubles.

Yet, the EU stated that all payments for Russian gas should be made according to existing contracts, which are largely in dollars and euros, and that companies should clearly state this before agreeing to purchase fuel.

“Operators should make a clear statement that they intend to fulfill their obligations under existing contracts and consider their contractual obligations regarding the payment already fulfilled by paying in euros or dollars, in line with the existing contracts,” the EU released in a statement on Monday.

A number of European companies have already jumped on the opportunity, as the Italian energy company Eni SpA intends to open accounts in both euros and rubles at Gazprombank in order to pay for Russian gas, as reported in Al Jazeera.

Russian oil and fuel, upon which many European countries are dependent for energy and heating, have become major points of contention in the EU in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The bloc has attempted to ban all imports of Russian energy products, but countries that depend on the imports have blocked these attempts.

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