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Rotterdam rules out port bans for Russia ships

The European Union is yet to decide whether to match UK and US bar oil and gas imports to pressure Vladimir Putin

Russian gas and oil shipments are being discharged at ports in northwest Europe and Mediterranean even as self-sanctioning among oil companies and shipowners cuts trade

EUROPE’s largest oil trading hub will not ban Russian ships after the Netherlands Prime Minister ruled out the move for the port of Rotterdam.

The pledge came as Russian-origin oil and gas cargoes continued to discharge at ports in northwest Europe, including Rotterdam, a day after the US and US yesterday barred imports in a coordinated measure to pressure President Vladimir Putin.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters in Paris that any ban “wasn’t on the table for now” and that such a move would be made at a European level.

The 27 members of the European Union — which rely on Russia for 40% of natural gas and a quarter of crude imports — said they were committed to reducing Russian energy commodities imports by two thirds by the end of 2022.

Four tankers owned by Moscow-listed Sovcomflot were tracked to waters off the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp ports on March 9 and are signalling Rotterdam as their next destination.

Another Sovcomflot tanker, SCF Baltica (IMO: 9305568) discharged its crude oil cargo at the Maatschap Europoort Terminal in Rotterdam on March 8, according to vessel-tracking data. The terminal pumps crude by pipeline to refineries in Germany and Belgium.

Two other aframax Sovcomflot tankers — NS Century (IMO: 9306782) and NS Concept (IMO: 9299707) — are off the western and eastern coasts of the UK respectively after discharging cargoes before the UK ban on Russian-affiliated ships calling at its ports.

Four Russian-linked liquefied natural gas carriers and at least two tankers have been turned away from the UK in the past five days because of the ban on Russian owned, operated, and chartered ships.

The vessel STI Wembley (IMO: 9691735), which has no Russian connections, is signalling it will arrive at Thamesport on March 11 after loading a 30,000-tonne oil products cargo at St Petersburg on March 4.

The US ban applies immediately while the UK set a deadline for all Russian fossil fuels to be banned by the end of the year.

Russian oil and petroleum product exports have shrunk by some 1.5m barrels per day over the past week (overall exports are around 7m bpd) as oil companies shun shipments, amid widespread self-sanctioning as evolving bans complicate compliance and raise reputational risk.

Aframax tanker Elli (IMO: 9412452) was one of the first casualties of the US ban on March 8.

The Houston-bound vessel laden with 100,000 tonnes of oil loaded from Novorossiysk stopped its transatlantic voyage and has remained idle for the past 24 hours shortly after clearing the Strait of Gibraltar.

Oil prices remain at 13-year highs, with turmoil in the commodities markets triggering the biggest recalibration of seaborne tanker trades since the first Gulf War in the 1990s.

Crude tanker shipping rates on Russian-exposed routes have spiked to around $250,000 per day, a 1,600% rise, after the Ukraine invasion, reflecting increased insurance costs and the unwillingness of shipowners to sail to Black Sea and Baltic ports.

Suezmax rates from Novorossiysk to ports in the Mediterranean were at $117,000 per day, down after peaking at $157,000 daily on March 1.

Aframax rates from the Baltic Sea to northwest Europe were around $255,000 per day, according to the Baltic Exchange.


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