Singapore’s Seizure Of Oil Tankers Reaches Unprecedented Levels Amidst Expanding Shadow Fleet

Singapore, a significant hub for oil storage and transportation, has detained many chemical and oil tankers incapable of clearing inspections, a record high this year.

As Russia increasingly uses old tankers to ship crude oil and products without Western insurance, the crackdown on ships without safety features has recently strengthened in Asia. Asia is currently the top destination for Russia’s crude oil following the EU embargo and the G7 price cap on Russian oil sold to third nations.

Singapore's Seizure Of Oil Tankers
Representation Image

So, year to date, Singapore has held almost 33 vessels that have not met the safety checks and stringent inspections, Bloomberg declared on Wednesday, sharing data from the regional port control organization, the Tokyo MOU. That is more than all the tankers detained by Singapore in the whole decade until 2019. In April 2023, Singapore held nine vessels, the highest number recorded since 2010, per the data.

For 2022, Singapore reportedly detained 28 tankers. Most of these detentions happened in the second half of 2022, per Tokyo MOU’s data shared by Bloomberg.

The “shadow fleet” or “dark fleet” of oil tankers significantly expanded in the second half of 2022 after the G7 and the EU said that they would be banning the imports of Russia’s crude oil and levy a price cap of $60 for a barrel if the cargoes with Russian crude wanted to use Western liability insurance as well as financing.

As the number of old oil tankers that ship Russian oil soared, the Chinese authorities in Shandong have increased the safety checks, especially on old vessels reaching the key oil import port of Qingdao, holding ships over 20 years old, for weeks, at the port.

Last year, an unusual number of tankers changed their ownerships in what shipping industry officials and analysts believe was a push from Russia to keep shipping significant volumes of crude and entities willing to earn profit from Russia’s oil trade in a sanctions regime.

The “shadow” or “dark” fleet of oil tankers has been growing to include tankers not only shipping sanctioned Venezuelan and Iranian oil but also increasingly larger volumes of Russian oil and products.

References: SCMP, Oil Price

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