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EU considering ship-to-ship transfer crackdown

In addition to ships turning off AIS signals, ship-to-ship transfers are also now on the sanctions agenda in Brussels, Lloyd’s List has learnt

European Commission officials are considering several options to target Russia via the shipping industry in the next round of sanctions measures being drafted

SHIP-to-ship transfers that allow Russian oil to continue trading could be targeted in the next round of European sanctions due to be agreed next month.

As part of the 11th sanctions package being prepared by the European Commission, officials are already exploring how they could target vessels turning off Automatic Identification System signals, but further details are now starting to emerge regarding STS operations also now under scrutiny.

Among proposals circulating in Brussels to put flesh on its mooted crackdown on ships skirting sanctions against Russia is prohibiting entry to European ports for vessels that switch off their AIS in a bid to hide their movements, Lloyd’s List has been told.

Citing governmental feedback, a senior shipping industry source said, however, that the proposal had not yet progressed beyond a preliminary draft text.

The industry view was that any such measure had to be very carefully drafted to “take into account various external factors including the specifics of the technology”, the source maintained.

The aim should be “to protect innocent ships” from being unjustly sanctioned.




In addition, the commission was said to be exploring cracking down on ship-to-ship transfers. STS operations are often seen as among the tools available to help obfuscate the origin of oil cargoes.

But countermeasures were seen as “more difficult” to implement as STS transfers linked to Russian oil generally take place in international waters.

“This will be very difficult to deal with, legally,” the source claimed.

Lloyd’s List understands that the push to target both AIS and STS operations has come from within the commission, rather than being proposed directly by a member state. However, officials are still trying to figure out if it is both legally and technically possible.

A draft proposal is not scheduled to be ready for at least another two weeks, leaving officials enough time to consult on the options.



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