The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have pressured Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama to increase controls on ships flying their flags and prevent them from transporting Russian oil sold above the price limit

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Los Estados Unidos, la Unión Europea y el Reino Unido presionan a Liberia, las Islas Marshall y Panamá para aumentar la supervisión de los buques que llevan sus banderas y evitar que transporten petróleo ruso vendido por encima del límite de precio.

In an unprecedented move, these Western countries are stepping up efforts to enforce a $60 price cap on Russian oil shipments by sea, imposed as a punitive measure for Moscow’s involvement in conflict in Ukraine. The goal of this limit is to reduce the export earnings of Russia, while maintaining the global flow of oil.

Originally imposed at the end of 2022, the cap was recently applied. Western companies are prohibited from providing maritime services that facilitate trade in Russian oil sold above the limit, such as transportation, insurance and financing. In response, Russia is turning to an aging fleet of tankers, known as the “ghost fleet,” to transport oil around the limit. These tankers are now transporting oil to destinations such as China and India, which are further and cost more to ship compared to Russia’s traditional customer base.

According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence and oil analysts, Panama, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Liberia have allowed some of the tankers in the ghost fleet to fly their flags. This practice, known as “flag hopping,” allows shell companies involved in the Russian oil trade to avoid sanctions. Nearly 40% of the approximately 535 tankers in the ghost fleet have registered ownership through companies incorporated in the Marshall Islands.

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Letters sent by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom warned Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama about the increasing evasion of the price limit and the high risks associated with uninsured ships in the West and other services. as they search for alternative flags. The push is aimed not at reducing the number of vessels carrying Russian oil, but at improving compliance with the price cap and making it more expensive for Russia to transport oil without relying on Western shipping services. . In addition, it seeks to give bargaining power to countries outside the price cap coalition to obtain oil price discounts from Russia.

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Panama has historically responded to requests from the United States regarding illegal activities. The letters were signed by Lindsey Whyte of the UK Treasury, John Berrigan of the European Commission’s financial services unit, and Brian Nelson, the top terrorism financing official at the US Treasury.

Frequently asked questions:

1. What is the purpose of the price cap on oil shipments in Russian waters?
The purpose of the price cap is to reduce Russia’s export earnings while maintaining the flow of world oil in response to Moscow’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

2. What is the “ghost fleet” of tankers?
The “ghost fleet” refers to an aging fleet of tankers used by Russia to transport oil and avoid the price cap imposed by Western countries.

3. What is “flag jumping” in relation to the Russian oil trade?
“Flag hopping” is a practice in which shell companies involved in the Russian oil trade register their ownership through countries such as Panama, the Marshall Islands or Liberia, allowing them to avoid sanctions.

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4. Why did the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom put pressure on Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama?
These countries allow tankers carrying Russian oil above the price limit to fly their flags. The push is aimed at tightening compliance with the limit and making it more expensive for Russia to transport oil without using Western shipping services, while giving an advantage to countries seeking discounted oil prices from Russia.

5. How were Panama and the Marshall Islands asked to act in response to the pressure?
Panama and the Marshall Islands were asked to inform the trading community that their flags should not be used for tankers carrying oil above the price limit.

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