Marine fuel sellers are no longer serving vessels that have a flag of Russia at major European hubs like Malta and Spain in yet another blow to the exports of Moscow. The sudden loss of access to refuelling services in the Mediterranean Sea has posed immense logistical challenges for Russia’s oil tankers, especially those sailing from Baltic ports to Asia. The situation also results in safety concerns over being stuck with flammable cargo at sea.
Russia is currently reeling from economic sanctions on the country’s oligarchs and banks. Many foreign firms are also cutting ties after Moscow invaded Ukraine, which Putin refers to as a special operation. Several factors have resulted in stopping refueling services, including “self sanctioning”, where shipping firms try staying ahead of the next set of likely measures by also refusing to build contracts with Russia’s entities.
Payment-related problems resulting from banking restrictions have added to issues with deals for marine fuel typically paid and priced for in US dollars. A source said that Russian-flagged vessels could not secure marine fuel in Malta, the Gibraltar, or Algeciras – major refueling or bunkering zones in the Mediterranean.
An official in Malta said the country was not permitting Russian-flagged ships to arrive at its ports. A Spain’s Merchant Marine spokesperson said it was also possible that some providers are taking the measures independently. A spokesperson from the Gibraltar government reported that port authorities will reject calling requests by ships operated or owned by anyone connected to Russia, not even in cases of bunkering, per the UK’s rules.
The spokesperson mentioned that as in Britain, foreign vessels with Russian cargoes wouldn’t be affected. The Russian maritime sector has been grappling with the winding down of other services, such as ship certification by leading providers, which is key to securing insurance and accessing ports – shipping firms are pulling out and ship engine makers have been suspending all training on equipment.
Some sources from the shipping industry say that given the complexities of the world’s seaborne trade it was not clear how Russian firms would operate with several services being pulled back.
Monjasa, a Denmark-based marine fuels ship owner and supplier said it was “trading and supplies with Russian-flagged vessels, companies registered in Russia, and firms and individuals with affiliation or ties to Russia’s ownership from 25 February, a day after Russia’s invasion had started.
Danish Bunker Holding also mentioned that it had put an end to all deliveries to the Russian harbors since March beginning, adding that the group and subsidiaries had ceased to make new obligations.
Earlier this month, Britain declared sanctions on Russia’s Sovcomflot, the biggest shipping firm in the country. While a ban on Russia’s vessels from the EU ports is being discussed, Russia’s oil and products exporters have encountered problems concluding charters for insurance and ships.
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