Where is sanctioned Russian oil going?
Windward’s report on Russia’s war with Ukraine answers this question and looks at how the conflict has impacted deceptive shipping practices (DSPs), trade routes, and more.
Despite the imposition of sanctions on oil and price cap regulations, the number of shipments arriving via ship-to-ship (STS) transfers has remained constant since the onset of the conflict. We used our Maritime AI™ platform to analyze STS operations where one of the vessels called port in Russia right before the meeting, and discovered some interesting insights. The data shows that while initially there was a sharp decrease in port calls in the UK, EU, and U.S. following the official ban on Russian oil on March 8, 2022, the number of port calls soon returned almost to its pre-invasion level.
Before the invasion, there were 22.5 port calls (monthly average) in the UK, EU, and U.S. following an STS operation involving a vessel that came from Russia. In 2022, it only dropped to 18 – not the decline you would expect to see when there is an official ban in place.
Turkey, contrarily, seems to have increased its Russian oil imports from STS operations in 2022. The monthly average of shipments arriving to Turkey following such a meeting was six – a 39% increase compared to 2021.
The biggest increases were seen in China, India, and South Korea. The monthly average of shipments arriving at one of these countries following an STS operation with a vessel coming from Russia was seven in 2021. In 2022, that number increased by 32% to 11.8. As noted, these countries have maintained an openly collaborative relationship with Russia.
While we did see a significant decrease in direct port calls in the UK, EU, and U.S. since the war began, the number of shipments arriving through STS engagements has remained steady, despite the ban and the price cap regulations. This is likely related to the “dark fleet,” a group of vessels operating in the shadows by using DSPs, such as GNSS manipulation, to move sanctioned commodities.
Windward’s full report goes far beyond the issue of oil, analyzing dry cargo and grain smuggling, an evolving trade trend between Iran and Russia, a deep dive into Russia-related DSPs, and much more!