NewsRussian oil tanker blocks strategic Dardanelles strait heading to India

Russian oil tanker blocks strategic Dardanelles strait heading to India

A Russian tanker belonging to the shadow fleet got stuck in the strait off the coast of Turkey
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A Russian tanker belonging to the shadow fleet got stuck in the strait off the coast of Turkey -
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8:13 AM EDT, May 25, 2024, updated: 10:35 AM EDT, May 25, 2024

A Russian oil tanker belonging to the shadow fleet got stuck in the strait off the coast of Turkey, blocking the Dardanelles Strait. The ship was heading to India.

According to Bloomberg, the tanker Hera 1 was in terrible technical condition, and its engine failed. As a result, the ship blocked traffic in the strategically important Dardanelles Strait, temporarily halting ship traffic heading south.

The incident occurred in the morning of May 23rd at the entrance to the strait, located in the northwestern part of Turkey. After five hours, traffic was restored, and the tanker anchored.

Hera 1 was en route to the Suez Canal, carrying approximately 730,000 barrels of Russian crude oil, which were loaded in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Shipping information indicates that the final destination is India.

Bloomberg notes that the insurer and the actual owner of the tanker are not registered in the International Maritime Organization's database. The agency reminds us that millions of barrels of Russian oil are being transported worldwide, often through narrow sea straits, without any information on who insures this transport.

Tankers must have mandatory insurance purchased from certified international insurers. The "shadow fleet," estimated by experts to number around 600 units, or about 10 percent of the global number of large tankers, transports Russian oil in defiance of sanctions. Even industry experts cannot determine who the operators and owners of this armada are, reports the CNN editorial.

They buy ships that should be scrapped

In the past year, new players have entered the tanker market. In some cases, shell companies from Dubai or Hong Kong were involved. Some bought ships from Europeans, while others used old ships that would otherwise have been scrapped.

After Russia attacked Ukraine, Europe moved away from Russian energy while Asia increased purchases. According to the International Energy Agency, China increased its import of Russian oil by 19 percent compared to 2021, and India recorded an eightfold increase.

Fulfilling these orders requires ships, which Russia lacks. CNN-quoted analyst Matthew Wright divides ships transporting Russian oil into "gray ships" and "dark ships."

Gray ships were sold after the invasion, mainly by owners in Europe, to companies in the Middle East and Asia that previously did not operate in the tanker market. On the other hand, dark ships are veterans of operations conducted by Iran and Venezuela to evade Western sanctions and have recently switched to transporting Russian oil.

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