- Russia has been using so-called “ghost ships” to skirt the West’s oil price cap.
- The EU plans to ask Denmark to crack down on those tankers, according to the Financial Times.
- Russia sends millions of barrels of crude oil through a choke point at the Danish straits, per the outlet.
Russian oil tankers could face a crackdown at a key choke point, according to the Financial Times.
The European Union has tasked Denmark with scrutinizing the so-called “ghost ships” Moscow uses to transport crude oil while avoiding Western price caps, the outlet reported Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the matter.
Last December, the G7 group of countries capped the price of Russian oil at $60 a barrel in a bid to chip away at the Kremlin’s export revenues.
But Russia has managed to skirt those sanctions by using a “shadow fleet” of oil tankers, which can dodge the price cap by either submitting falsified financial statements or being covered by non-Western insurers.
It sold 99% of its crude above the price cap last month, according to data from the KSE Institute cited by Bloomberg.
The FT reported that the EU plans to task Denmark with inspecting and potentially blocking Russian ships that sail through the Danish straits, which tankers from the Baltic Sea pass through to reach international markets.
Russia sends the equivalent of two million barrels of oil through the straits daily, per the FT, accounting for 60% of its total seaborne crude exports. Its main Baltic Sea ports are Ust-Luga, Primorsk, and Saint Petersburg.
Sources told the outlet that as well as seeking to reinforce its price cap, the EU is also concerned there’s a greater risk that Russia’s ghost ships, which tend to be older vessels without western insurance, could breakdown or suffer an oil spillage.
Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, states can inspect and detain ships if there’s “clear objective evidence” that they pose a threat to the environment.
But Denmark could struggle to stop the ghost ships because of constraints on its own navy, according to maritime experts.
“Denmark has never done anything like that before. Blocking commercial traffic in the Danish straits would come close to a declaration of war,” Hans Peter Michaelsen, an independent defense analyst, told Reuters.
“And it would not be a simple task for the Danish navy. We have small Diana class vessels patrolling our waters, but they will look like lifeboats next to an oil tanker,” he added.