A mysterious Mumbai firm registered as an exporter only on 31 March 2023, has rapidly evolved into a giant of international oil shipping over the last 18 months, per Financial Times.
The company has bought more oil tankers than any other firm since the war in Ukraine last year. The report mentions that in 2021, the firm owned two chemical tankers but by last month, it had 58 vessels, worth about $1.6 billion.
There is only little by way of records regarding the firm, which is yet to appear on the official corporate registry of India.
An important clue is that the firm in question shares an address in the shopping mall with Mumbai-registered firm, yet another little-known operation that two years ago reported about $100,000 worth of assets, the report mentions, observing that who owns either the mall or funded the company is mired in mysteries.
The firm’s role, however, has benefited Russia’s oil giant Rosneft, from whom it managed to transport over half of the 83mn barrels of Russia’s crude as well as oil products it brought to the Indian ports.
A specialist informed FT that the firm is nearly exclusively servicing Russia’s flows and could be a prime example of Russian oil majors that would desire to get into shipping to evade ongoing Western sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The government of India has been defending its trade with Russia vehemently despite US warnings, stating that it has to source oil from where it is the cheapest.
A January report published by Wall Street Journal noted a parallel fleet is aiding Moscow to get crude to its buyers spread all over Asia.
FT further added that by early April 2023, none of this firm’s vessels had insurance from the recognized large mutual providers. Its vessels have started aging and had transported crude oil earlier from all over the world, but are focusing solely on Russia’s oil at the moment.
A recent report discovered that India is currently leading the group of laundromat nations that purchase discounted Russian crude oil, refine it, and sell processed products to European nations, sidestepping European sanctions against Russia.
References: Energy Economic Times, The Wire
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