China’s Safety Crackdown on Aging Ships as Dark Fleet Expands

Credits: Martin Damboldt/ Pexels

Increasing inspections on older vessels at a prominent Chinese port are causing disruptions to certain shipments and raising concerns about the growing number of ageing ships transporting Russian oil worldwide, as reported by GCaptain.

Restrictions on Russian Oil

Stricter safety checks in Shandong province, China, have caused delays for old tankers attempting to deliver crude oil to the country. The supertanker Titan was detained in Qingdao due to fire-safety issues, including oil accumulation in its engine room, but has since been released. The fate of its cargo remains unclear. Another tanker, the Ocean Peri, carrying Russian oil, has been waiting near Qingdao for nearly a month. The local maritime authority is conducting heightened safety scrutiny on foreign ships over 15 years old. Restrictions on Russian oil have led to increased purchases of older tankers by undisclosed buyers. Age-based inspections at ports can impact vessels arriving from Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, which are sanctioned regions.

Enhanced Scrutiny

Inexperienced ship owners and operators, often registered in more lenient regulatory environments, have raised concerns among senior figures in the shipping industry regarding safety risks. Chinese maritime authorities are particularly worried about insufficient documentation and inadequate safety checks at origin ports. If China mandates industry-standard insurance coverage for vessels arriving at its ports, Russian crude cargoes would need to be purchased at $60 a barrel or less to comply with the Group-of-Seven price cap. Ships found to have safety violations will have to reapply for their certificates before entering port areas, with the duration and impact on older ships remaining uncertain. The Titan, sailing under the flag of Cameroon, lacks international insurance cover, as does the Ocean Peri, sailing under the flag of Palau. China has ramped up maritime safety checks following the dismantling of its “Covid Zero” policy.


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Source: GCaptain