Russian oil is shipped to Asia on tankers once used for sanctioned Iranian crude

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  • Tankers transporting sanctioned Iranian oil are now bringing Russian crude to Asia, analytics firm Vortexa said.
  • Vortexa also said the number of ship-to-ship transfers of Russian oil involving ships with their signals turned off is increasing.
  • Russia, Iran and Venezuela are increasingly competing to sell oil to India and China while avoiding US wrath.

Tankers that used to carry Iranian oil are now loading Russian crude to ship to Asia as fears of a Western backlash are forcing trade in the region to “go dark,” according to energy analysis firm Vortexa.

Since April, at least 11 tankers have loaded Russian oil and previously transported Iranian crude. said Vortexa in a note on Friday. Vortexa analyst Armen Azizian, who wrote the note, told Insiders that the shipments are all destined for Asia.

Vortexa said the number of ship-to-ship transfers of Russian oil in the Atlantic Ocean involving ships that have turned off their locating signals — a practice known as “getting dark” – grows.

“As more companies scale back shipments of Russian crudes/products, those familiar with the sanctioned crude oil trade will continue to use their tankers to help Russia export oil east of Suez,” Azizian said in the statement.

He said Russia, Iran and Venezuela – all countries suffering the weight of US sanctions – are increasingly competing to sell their oil to India and China.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Western nations rushed to impose sanctions on Moscow. The US and UK have banned the import of Russian oil.

Although not directly affected by the sanctions, many major energy traders and companies have “self-sanctioned” and steered clear products out of the country.

However, India and China have increased their purchases of Russian oil, which is trading at a deep discount.

The sales have been facilitated by companies willing to risk the wrath of the US and its allies, some of which use methods like ship-to-ship transfers and blackout to reduce the risk of detection.

Azizian told Insider that ships registered in Panama and Liberia have switched from Iranian to Russian oil.

Russia’s attempt to move toward Asia is fueling competition in the region, Vortexa’s report said.

“It is very clear that Russia is competing with Iran and Venezuela for previously limited placement opportunities in markets east of Suez, essentially only in China and India,” it said.

“Meanwhile, rising inflows of sanctioned or quasi-sanctioned (Russian) oil into Asian markets are causing difficulties for some Middle Eastern suppliers to place all their medium to heavy sour kegs, resulting in Iraq’s official selling prices compared to the competitors lowered .”

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