The ‘Bad Boy’ of Shipping Cashes In on Russian Oil

Credits: CHUTTERSNAP/Unsplash

George Economou and other Greek tycoons doubled down when rival shipowners, spooked by Ukraine-related sanctions, backed away, IScanInfo.

Tanker owners are doubling down

Most Western shipping companies stopped moving Russian oil after the U.S. and allies sanctioned Moscow’s prize export. In Greece, home to one of the world’s biggest merchant fleets, tanker owners are doubling down.

At the front of the pack is George Economou, a 70-year-old shipping tycoon with a taste for art by Francis Bacon, minimalist superyachts and ventures some rivals say they wouldn’t dare attempt.

His new money-spinner: Claiming a narrow lane of business that serves the economic interests of both Russia and the U.S., but is too treacherous for many competitors.

Ukraine’s behalf for tougher sanctions

TMS Tankers, one company in Mr. Economou’s network, has transported tens of millions of barrels of Russia’s crude and fuel since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to shipping data analyzed by Global Witness, an anticorruption group that has campaigned on Ukraine’s behalf for tougher sanctions. That makes TMS the second-biggest player in the trade of transporting Russian oil, behind Russia’s state-owned Sovcomflot.

People familiar with TMS’s activities, as well as brokers and rival shipowners, corroborate the findings. Seven Greek groups, including TMS, rank in the top 10 movers of Russian oil post-invasion, collectively shipping 50% more than Moscow’s state tanker company.

Tankers linked to Mr. Economou made more than 200 voyages from Russian ports from invasion day, Feb. 24 of last year, through to the end of February this year, according to Global Witness. It’s a lucrative business, netting between $4 million and $5 million in profit for each 60-day voyage from the Baltic Sea to India—the busiest route—and back, according to ship brokers and rival owners.

Mr. Economou didn’t respond to requests for comment. A TMS representative said the company didn’t comment on Mr. Economou’s business or personal life.

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Source: IScanInfo