Tanker sales proliferate as EU deadline on Russian oil nears

Vintage tankers, typically ready for the scrapyards, are changing hands for future trading in record numbers and at eye-catching prices as Russia gets its oil export plans in place for further bans.

Today, in Brussels, European Union members had until 10:00 a.m. to revert on proposals that would set a price cap on Russian oil sold to third parties. On December 5, the EU will ban imports of Russian crude oil and prohibit providing insurance and finance for seaborne oil.

There are plenty of signs that Russian firms are building their maritime logistics chains with the December ban looming large.

The thought of sanctioned cargoes has kept even the older ladies off the beach

Preliminary information from brokers BRS suggests that September was a record month for tanker sales and purchase transactions with 61 units changing hands for further trading. This consisted of a significant volume of vintage tonnage, including seven VLCCs, five suezmaxes and eight aframaxes, all of which would make good candidates to eventually haul Russian crude.

“Ascertaining tanker asset values is fast becoming a game of pin the tail on the donkey as sale prices leapfrog last-done levels,” commented brokers Gibson in a recent market report.

Furious tanker trading has made up for limited S&P deals in most other sectors in recent weeks.

“The thought of sanctioned cargoes has kept even the older ladies off the beach with vessels even out of class finding new homes at well above scrap,” a new report from brokers Hartland pointed out. Details of some of the older tonnage finding new employment are carried in a tweet below.

“Seemingly many of the previously sanctioned vessels carrying Iranian and Venezuelan oil to China have now moved across to carrying Russian cargoes to India, these cargos are not just boosting VLCC prices but also keeping suezmax and aframax levels high and steady,” Hartland pointed out.

Splash reported late last month on how Russia is taking away an ever large slice of the so called dark tanker fleet from Venezuela and Iran to ship cargoes to Asia.

According to brokers Braemar, as of late September 33 tankers that had previously carried either sanctions-hit Iranian or Venezuelan crude have loaded Russian oil or oil products since April this year with aframaxes and suezmaxes leading the way.

Export volumes from Iranian and Venezuelan crude have slid over the past few months in the same period where Russia to China volumes have picked up.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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