Marine fuel sellers have stopped serving Russian-flagged ships in major European hubs, including Spain and Malta, in another blow to Moscow’s exports, five industry sources say.
Loss of access to refueling points in the Mediterranean Sea poses major logistical challenges for Russian tankers traveling from Baltic ports to Asia and also creates security concerns related to potentially being stranded at sea with cargo flammable, according to maritime sources.
Russia is reeling from a wave of tough economic sanctions on its banks, and oligarchs and foreign companies are cutting ties after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin calls a military operation special.
Multiple factors caused the shutdown of refueling services, including what sources described as a “self-sanction” where companies try to stay ahead of the next wave of measures by refusing to make deals. contracts with Russian entities.
Payment problems due to banking restrictions have also compounded complications with marine fuel deals, which are usually priced and paid for in US dollars.
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A source said Russian-flagged ships could not secure marine fuel in Malta, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar or the nearby city of Algeciras in Spain – all major refueling or refueling in the Mediterranean.
“Several tankers had to make a longer trip to refuel in other countries after European ports refused to supply fuel,” said another source who was aware of the movements of one of the tankers.
A government official in Malta said the country does not allow any Russian-flagged ships to enter its ports.
A spokesperson for the Spanish Merchant Navy Department of Transport said it was “possible that some suppliers may adopt these measures independently”.
A Gibraltar government spokesperson said port authorities “will reject appeal requests from all vessels owned or operated by anyone connected to the country, not even for bunkering, in accordance with UK rules”.
The spokesman said that, as in Britain, foreign ships carrying Russian cargo would not be affected.
“Do no business”Russia’s maritime sector is already grappling with the cutback of other services, including ship certification by major foreign suppliers – vital for accessing ports and securing insurance – shipping companies are pulling out and ship engine manufacturers suspend training on their equipment.
Shipping industry sources say that given the complexity of global maritime trade, it was unclear how Russian companies could operate with the withdrawal of several services.
Danish marine fuel supplier and shipowner Monjasa said it had suspended “trade and supplies with Russian-flagged vessels, companies and companies registered in Russia and individuals with links or affiliation to Russian ownership. starting February 25, a day after the start of the Russian invasion. .
Danish group Bunker Holding said it had stopped all deliveries to Russian ports since early March, adding that the group and its subsidiaries, including Dan-Bunkering, had also “stopped entering into new obligations with Russian counterparties”.
“We are aware of the challenges that this decision to stop trading with Russian counterparties imposes on customers and counterparties in the rest of the world, but with the terrible situation in Ukraine, we must act quickly and decisively against Russia” , Bunker Holding said in a statement. declaration.
Gibraltar bunker supplier Peninsula, which is active elsewhere in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, said in a LinkedIn post that it “does not do business with Russian-owned or majority-owned Russian ships, ports, companies suppliers and financial institutions”.
Earlier this month, Britain announced sanctions against Russia’s largest shipping company Sovcomflot.
While a ban on Russian vessels in EU ports is still under discussion, Russian oil and product exporters have already faced problems securing vessel charters and insurance, according to maritime sources.
Additional reporting by Inti Landauro and Isla Binnie in Madrid, Chris Scicluna in Valletta and Rowena Edwards in London.