WASHINGTON: The United States has imposed sanctions on maritime companies and vessels on Thursday for shipping Russian oil sold above the Group of Seven’s price cap.
This move by Washington aims to close loopholes in the mechanism designed to penalize Moscow for its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.
The three oil tankers, which were newly sanctioned by Washington, have consistently transported Sokol crude from Russia’s Far East to Indian Oil, the nation’s leading refiner, as per ship-tracking data from LSEG, Kpler, and trade sources.
The three Liberian-flagged ships facing sanctions are the Kazan, Ligovsky Prospect, and NS Century, as confirmed by the Treasury Department. The data reveals that all three Aframax-sized tankers discharged Russian Sokol crude in India in September, with two of them repeating the journey in October.
While these sanctions may temporarily decrease the number of ships transporting Russian oil and prompt India to explore alternative suppliers, experts suggest that the trade is unlikely to come to a complete halt due to its lucrative nature.
A trader stated, “As long as there are willing buyers, sellers, and shippers will always find a way to make the oil flow.” Some traders anticipate that India may turn to the Mediterranean and North Sea to replace Russian Sokol.
Currently, the NS Century is en route to discharge Sokol crude at Vadinar port in Gujarat for Indian Oil Corp (IOC) on November 25, as indicated by LSEG and Kpler data.
Indian Oil Corp purchases Sokol under an annual contract with Russian oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM). The surge in global prices led to Russian oil being sold above the price caps imposed by Western nations at $60 a barrel.
These three vessels obtained safety certification from the Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) last year. Ligovsky Prospect and Kazan, managed by Oil Tanker (SCF) Management-FZCO, received certification on September 14 and May 7, respectively, while NS Century, managed by Dubai-based Sun Ship Management (D) Ltd, was certified on September 15, 2022.