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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Russian shadow fleet refuels off the coast of Gotland, to be supplied with fuel by a company from Latvia

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For months, a Latvian company has been supplying fuel to the Russian so-called shadow fleet, i.e. ships that are worn out and often have no insurance, Swedish television SVT reported on Tuesday. As indicated, refueling is carried out via a Cypriot tanker anchored off the coast of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

According to the Swedish public broadcaster, in the last two months Fast Bunkering has carried out 56 ship refueling operations from the Cypriot tanker M/S Zircone located east of Slite on Gotland. In 52 cases, bunkering (refueling fuel for further sea navigation) concerned ships sailing to or from Russia, some of them were tankers exporting Russian oil.

– These ships are a ticking ecological bomb. If a leak occurred, it would be difficult to hold the perpetrator responsible. (…) It would be a disaster for the Baltic Sea environment – says Henrik Wachtmeister, an energy expert from Uppsala University.

According to SVT, the case was taken up by the Swedish authorities, but the Coast Guard discontinued the investigation into the matter. Ultimately, Latvia was not asked for legal assistance and the company would only face a fine.

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Then Fast Bunkering applied for permission to refuel at sea to the Swedish Transport Authority, which did not object, because formally it is enough if the tanker has an operations plan, certificates, and the captain of the vessel – appropriate qualifications.

The company responds

In a written response to Swedish television, the head of Fast Bunkering, Alexei Volkov, said that the water area off Gotland was chosen due to the demand for supplies from customers. Referring to the risk of environmental contamination, he assured that appropriate licenses are in place and procedures are followed.

However, in response to the accusation of supporting Russian commercial shipping, he replied that “EU sanctions enable a certain influence (export) of Russian oil.” “Bunkering these ships is a matter of maritime safety and avoiding any risk of environmental damage,” Volkov emphasized.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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