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Greek Shippers Exit Russian Oil Trade Amid Growing US Scrutiny

Greek shipping
Three large Greek shipping giants stopped transporting Russian oil to avoid US sanctions, Reuters revealed. Credit: fdecomite / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Three major Greek shipping companies, Minerva Marine, Thenamaris, and TMS Tankers, have ceased transporting Russian oil in recent weeks to avoid US sanctions. They are aimed at targeting shipping firms engaged in the movement of Russian oil.

The move is seen as a setback for Russia, limiting the available shipping options for oil delivery to Asia, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, Reuters reports. However, sources indicate that Moscow presently maintains sufficient shipping firms.

Greek Shippers Reduced Their Involvement in Russian Oil Trade

Minerva Marine, Thenamaris, and TMS Tankers, previously active in Russian oil transportation, had gradually reduced their involvement in Russian oil trade since September, as indicated by both traders and shipping data available to Reuters.

The decision by Greek shippers to exit the trade follows increased US sanctions on Russian oil shipments. In October, the US imposed sanctions on tanker owners in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for carrying Russian oil exceeding the G7’s sixty dollar per barrel price cap.

As Reuters notes, according to traders that collaborated with the three firms, all three companies rejected requests for vessels to load Russian crude in the future. The decision by Greek shippers to withdraw from the trade aligns with the increased stringency of US sanctions targeting Russian oil shipments.

Western Sanctions and Greek Fleet

In October, Washington initiated sanctions against Turkish and Emirati owners of tankers found transporting Russian oil exceeding the G7’s sixty dollar per barrel price cap. Recent developments include additional sanctions imposed last week on three more ships, reinforcing the US stance on curbing oil shipments in violation of the established price threshold. These actions underscore the evolving regulatory landscape impacting international oil trade.

The G7 countries introduced the price cap in late 2022 to restrict Russian export revenues. Despite this, Russia’s main export grade, Urals, and Pacific ESPO Blend crude oil have consistently traded above the cap, prompting concerns about the efficacy of the measure.

For decades, the three Greek companies persisted in shipping Russian oil while many Western counterparts abandoned the routes due to escalating sanction risks and the enforcement of the price cap, Reuters reveals. Despite the risks, their commitment to the business proved financially rewarding, with Russian oil trade generating record revenues for them in the past year.

Three Greek companies manage a fleet exceeding one hundred oil tankers with the capacity to handle nearly the entirety of Russia’s oil exports from European ports, including Primorsk, Ust-Luga, and Novorossiisk. This amounts to approximately ten million tons per month or 2.4 million barrels per day. Additionally, they oversee a collection of smaller tankers dedicated to the transportation of fuel.

Russia’s Attempts to Maintain Oil Trade

As for Reuters, the increased transit time for Russian oil to reach Asian customers, now eight to ten weeks compared to two weeks prior to sanctions, has heightened the demand for more tankers.

Despite the Greek firms’ withdrawal, Russia reportedly seems to be managing the situation, relying on its shipping company Sovcomflot and various lesser-known shipping firms registered in locations such as the UAE, India, Hong Kong, the Seychelles, and Ghana. These vessels carry flags from nations such as Liberia and the Cook Islands among others.

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