Russian Shadow Fleet – Dark fleet expected to keep diesel flowing after ban

To bypass sanctions, Russia initially deployed a small group of oil tankers. However, now, hundreds of fuel vessels are trying to conceal their destinations from public view.

According to Kpler data, a record 311 mid-range ships were observed sailing without cargo or direction, in comparison to an average of 14 such ships before this year. In contrast, only 33 empty vessels are indicating that they are heading to Russia, the lowest number on record and down from 103 at the start of the year.

This development suggests that a “dark fleet” might be emerging to transport Russian fuel clandestinely, following the European Union’s ban on it. More than 400,000 barrels per day of diesel used to be transported from Russia to Europe, and traders and shippers are anticipated to find ways to circumvent the sanctions to keep a significant portion of it flowing into the global market.

The increase in purposeless empty vessels could also indicate that ship owners are trying to predict the area of greatest demand in the reshuffling of Russian products.

Since the EU ban, the cost of using fuel tankers has surged as ships join the “dark fleet” and become inaccessible and uninsured by European maritime service providers for regular trade routes, such as shipping gasoline from Europe to New York.

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