Old Russian Oil Tankers Are Doomed

Credits: motomoto sc/ Unsplash

Disaster awaits the aging fleet of Russian oil tankers, states a Vietnam Posts English news source.

Still active despite reaching the age of “cutting meat”

To transport oil to customers in more remote locations and to circumvent sanctions, Russia uses a fleet of “shadow” ships, many of which have reached the age of “retirement” due to lack of safety. . Experts warn this situation could lead to a maritime disaster.

The Turba tanker should have been disintegrated for scrap and melted down because of its old age. The 26-year-old vessel has not had a full safety inspection since 2017. It also lacks industry-standard insurance and flies the flag of a country with a weak record in maritime safety oversight. But instead of being taken to a beach in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan to be scrapped and sold for scrap, the Turba is transporting heavy crude from the port of St. Petersburg of Russia.

The European Union’s (EU) sanctions against Russia, including a ban on shipping crude oil and petroleum products by sea, have given Turba an opportunity to extend its operating time. This ship has joined the giant “shadow” fleet of Russian oil tankers to the global market. The concern now is that this fleet may not be properly inspected and maintained, which could lead to catastrophic accidents at sea, resulting in serious oil spills. Keeping aging tankers like the Turba afloat is a reminder that Western sanctions against Moscow come with environmental risks.

Lars Barstad, managing director of Frontline, one of the largest owners of supertankers, said: “Environmental disaster awaits using such aging fleets. “.

Usually, oil tanker owners begin to consider “butchering” ships with 15 years of operation to sell scrap. By the 20th year of operation, the fate of the tanker is considered to be arranged

Currently, however, many tanker owners are trying to extend the service life of older vessels by a few more years to make a profit.

The EU, for many years Russia’s top oil buyer, has banned seaborne imports of crude oil from Russia since early December last year. The EU also coordinated with the G7 powers to limit the price of Russian oil to $60/barrel or less. Oil tankers that can still carry Russian oil are sold well above that threshold, but not with Western services such as insurance, crew, ship classification, finance, transportation. The effect of these sanctions is that Russia increases long-distance oil exports to Russia’s remaining major markets in Asia using a fleet of unserviceable shadow tankers. of Western companies.

40 Russian oil tankers without insurance

According to Equasis, a maritime safety database system, at least 40 Russian tankers that arrived in China and India between early December and early February were uninsured from the international group of carriers. The Society of Indemnity and Protection (IGP&I), is responsible for providing 90% of marine insurance and safety management certificates are issued periodically. The three tankers, including the Turba, did not have a seaworthiness certificate. This is a copy issued by the registry to certify that the ship has a technical condition to ensure safe operation in a certain range of navigation.

There are good reasons to get rid of tankers when they are 20 years old. Often, the underlying reason is that their maintenance costs become expensive as safety and maintenance requirements become more difficult. Other reasons are the effects of years of saltwater corrosion and near-constant use which puts a strain on the integrity of the hull and propulsion system.

Tankers typically undergo intensive inspections about every five years. By the fourth inspection, the economics of continuing to operate the tanker dropped sharply. Such inspections can cost $3-4 million for large tankers.

Port authorities also tend to inspect older ships more closely. Rising costs and lack of customers will encourage owners to sell them to companies that specialize in dismantling old ships for scrap.

Big risk to the marine environment

Several aging tankers are transporting Russian crude oil through international waters off Greece or the Spanish territory of Ceuta in North Africa.

“This poses a huge environmental risk. These tankers should have been scrapped, but they are making countless millions of barrels without proper insurance,” said Adi Imsirovic, a veteran oil trader and now a director. of consulting firm Surrey Clean Energy, says.

The continuation of unsafe oil tankers like the Turba is reminiscent of one of the worst oil spills in European history. The oil tanker Prestige broke in half and leaked thousands of tons of oil onto the Spanish coast in November 2002. The disaster caused the destruction of seabirds and fisheries, and the destruction of beaches in Spain and Portugal.

According to data from shipping analytics firm Kpler, the Turba is the same age as the Prestige and also carries the same heavy crude oil from the port of St. Petersburg.

The Turba vessel recently transported Urals, Russia’s top crude oil, to India and loaded with heavy fuel oil at the port of St. Petersburg. As it moves to Asia, it will pass through the Baltic Sea and over some European coasts.

The Turba’s owner is Scoot Chartering Corp., a company registered in the East African island nation of Seychelles, according to IHS Maritime data. Its certificate of safe seafaring was revoked by Bureau Veritas (France) in 2021.

The Turba is flying the flag of Cameroon, one of the few countries blacklisted by the Paris MOU, an international organization that promotes and coordinates safe shipping. It is the only country classified as “high risk” on this blacklist. According to TradeWind data, in 2022, 26.6% of Cameroon-flagged vessel inspections in ports around the world resulted in an arrest decision for lack of safety.

According to data from Clarkson Shipping Services, the average age of the current tanker fleet is 12 years. Svein Moxnes Harfjeld, CEO of oil tanker DHT Holdings, said nearly a third of tankers are now over 15 years old and the number of aging vessels is forecast to increase rapidly in the coming years.

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Source: Vietnam Postsen


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