Tracking Russian Oil from Dark & Gray Fleets

Risk & Compliance

What’s inside?

    “As Western sanctions against Russia have escalated over its invasion of Ukraine, more ships have joined an existing fleet of mysterious tankers, ready to facilitate Russia’s oil exports… Who owns and operates many of these ships remains a puzzle,” as noted by CNN

    This blog post, which is based on our comprehensive shadow fleet report,  breaks down the destinations and origins of Russian oil from dark and gray fleets to assist with your strategic decision-making strategies

    Before diving in, take a quick look at the three-tiered system of vessels identified by Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform. 

     Destinations for Russian Oil from Dark and Gray Fleets

    “In terms of where these cargoes are headed, the key buyers of crude oil have been by far India and China since last February. These two countries further increased their share of Russian grades following the EU ban on Russian crude, which took effect on December 5, when the European segment of the Mediterranean countries halted their purchases,” said Ioannis Papadimitriou, Senior Freight Analyst at Vortexa. 

    “On the clean petroleum products (CPP) side, the interdependence of Russia and Europe remained strong even after the conflict, especially when it comes to diesel. As a result, Belgium and Netherlands (ARA region) continued to be the favorite destination throughout the end of 2022. Since then, the EU started to unwind its exposure on Russian products, which culminated in the February 5 ban, with Turkey emerging as the predominant buyer. Unlike the crude trade, a higher number of buyers has appeared for Russian diesel, in regions such as North and West Africa, the Middle East, and especially Brazil.”

    Gray Fleet Top 10 Destinations

    A deeper look:

    • The top three destinations for crude – China (+600K BPD), India (+480K BPD), and Turkey (+180K BPD)
    • Top three destinations for oil products – Turkey (+80K BPD), Belgium (+37K BPD), and Netherlands (+32K BPD)

    When zooming out of the Russian oil context and looking at the top destinations for global crude oil from the gray fleet, the top three countries are China, India, and Italy (replacing Turkey).

    Dark Fleet Top 10 Destinations

    • Top three destinations for crude – India (+420K BPD), China (+400K BPD), and Bulgaria (+100K BPD)
    • Top three destinations for oil products – Netherlands (+88K BPD), Turkey (+67K BPD), and Germany (+65K BPD)

    When zooming out of the Russian oil context and looking at the top destinations for global oil from the dark fleet, the top three countries are China, India, and Italy (replacing the Netherlands).

    Top 5 Origin Ports for Russian Oil from Dark and Gray Fleets

    Gray Fleet Vessels

    Dark Fleet Vessels

    • Top three origin ports for crude – Primorsk (+360K BPD), Kozmino (+270 BPD), and Novorossiysk (+250 BPD)
    • Top three origin ports for oil products – Primorsk (+175K BPD), Ust-luga (+160K BPD), and Novorossiysk (+108K BPD)

    When looking at oil on a macro level, the top origin ports for the gray fleet continue to be mainly Russian, but for the dark fleet, the picture changes, with Kharg Island and Singapore coming up in the top three origin ports.

    Learn More

    Our latest joint report with Vortexa shines a light on the different tanker fleets currently in use, explains how they are classified, offers proprietary and exclusive data on the trade flows of Russian oil, and supplies insights to provide maritime organizations with a conceptual framework to clear business faster, while avoiding financial and reputational risk.

    The report provides valuable insights to navigate the complex world of oil trading and avoid financial and reputational risks with greater clarity and confidence. Deep dive into: 

    • The shifting landscape
    • Oil trade flow trends related to Russia sanctions and the price cap
    • More

    Read the Report

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