Pressure grows on Liberia and Marshall Islands to take action against the dark tanker fleet
Pressure is growing on two of the world’s largest flags – both of whom are headquartered in Virginia in the United States – to take action against the dark fleet.
Research carried out by Craig Kennedy, who runs the Navigating Russia substack, shows some 40% of Russia’s supposedly sanction-proof fleet has been flying flags administered by private US companies based in Virginia responsible for administering the flags of Liberia and the Marshall Islands (see chart below).
The Marshall Islands has taken action in one respect to its links to the shadow fleet, informing Bloomberg that it has shut down the Continental Steamship Owners Mutual Protecting & Indemnity Association, an insurance outfit that covered much of the shadow fleet, including the Liberty, a suexmax that had been aground off Indonesia for more than a week with around 1m barrels of Venezuelan oil. The ship-to-ship lightering operations between the Liberty and another tanker ended this morning with the suezmax finally off the sandbar it had been on since last week.
Analysts at Vortexa issued a recent report showing that tankers operating in opaque markets reached a record high in Q2 and have since declined.
Vortexa data suggests that 1,649 unique tankers have operated in the opaque market from January 2021 to the middle of November. Tankers in the Russian trade account for 75% of the opaque fleet, according to Vortexa.
Also studying what it terms as the grey fleet has been French broker BRS. Excluding PDVSA of Venezuela and chemical tankers, BRS assesses the grey tanker fleet today stands at 675 ships, equating to 7.4% of the global tanker fleet.