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Oil tankers deploy mid-Atlantic switch of Russian crude

Shippers of Russian crude have been resorting to unusual methods to move cargoes over longer distances to new customers, reports Bloomberg.

The most recent example was a ship-to-ship transfer in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Aframax tanker Zhen I (IMO 9255880) discharged its cargo on May 26th and 27th into Panama flagged supertanker Lauren II (IMO 9258521) in waters 300 miles west of the island of Madeira, according to ship-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.

While moving cargoes from smaller to larger vessels is not uncommon, doing so in mid-ocean most certainly is. Most transfers take place in sheltered waters, which also serves to reduce the risk of oil spills.

Russian cargoes have been transferred to bigger ships off Skaw in Denmark, in the western Mediterranean off the Spanish North African town of Ceuta, and in the North Sea off Rotterdam, but Bloomberg said that this was the first transfer seen on the high seas.

The Zhen I has now returned to the Baltic Sea, where it will load its next cargo from Primorsk, Russia, in mid-June. Meanwhile the Lauren II is drifting in the mid-Atlantic, possibly awaiting the transfer of another cargo.

Self-sanctioning of Russian crude by some European refiners has forced greater volumes of crude to be moved much longer distances to buyers.

2002-built, Palau-flagged, 59,719 gt Zhen I is owned by Centrum Maritime Pte ltd care of manager Monumont Ship Management Ltd of Istanbul, Turkey. As of June 8th the vessel was at anchor off Skagen, Denmark.

2004-built, Panama-flagged, 159,087 gt Laure II is owned by Maisie Ltd care of manager Greetee Co Ltd of Dalian, Liaoning, China. It is entered with West of England (Claims Team Hong Kong) on behalf of Maisie Ltd.



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