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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sweden. Media: Fast Bunkering tanker off the coast of Gotland linked to a Russian oligarch

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The tanker, which supplies fuel to ships of the so-called Russian shadow fleet, is linked to a Russian oligarch and a Latvian oil magnate, Swedish television SVT reported on Saturday. The ship is anchored in the Baltic Sea east of Gotland.

According to SVT, the owners of the Latvian company Fast Bunkering, which operates the tanker, are Latvian citizens Alexei Tjulets and Sergiej Pasters. The men have both Russian and Maltese citizenship, respectively. As reported, the Latvian company has sold fuel to over 500 ships since 2022, almost all of which were on their way to or from Russia.

Measuring 125 meters long, the Zircone tanker acts as a floating gas station, fueling the shadow fleet Greenpeace/Will Rose

Suspicion of selling Russian fuel

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Swedish television pointed out that both entrepreneurs have been involved in oil trading for several decades, and in 2022 they were the heroes of a journalistic investigation by independent Belarusian media.

– These two businessmen have been repeatedly suspected of acting creatively to circumvent sanctions imposed on crude oil from Russia and Belarus. On this basis, it cannot be ruled out that we are also dealing with Russian oil products off the coast of Gotland, said journalist Stanisław Iwaszkiewicz from the Belarusian Investigation Center, quoted by SVT.

In the summer of 2023, the Estonian special services KAPO searched the Fast Bunkering company in Tallinn, called NT Bunkering. Suspicions concern violations of sanctions regarding Russian petroleum products, including: by falsifying customs codes.

The head of Fast Bunkering, Alexei Volkov, confirmed to SVT that the owners of the company he manages are Tjulets and Pasters, but denied that the fuel sold from a tanker off the coast of Gotland came from Russia.

Can bunkering be stopped?

According to SVT, the Swedish authorities are analyzing whether it is possible to stop the bunkering (refueling fuel for further sea navigation) taking place in the Baltic Sea. Fast Bunkering uses the Cyprus-registered tanker M/S Zircone for this purpose. The unit can change positions and operate in international waters.

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its own investigation.

The risk of environmental pollution is also important in this case. The so-called shadow fleet, i.e. ships that are worn out and often have no insurance, are considered by experts to be “ticking ecological bombs”. Last week, as part of a protest, Greenpeace activists wrote the slogan on the side of a tanker: “Oil fuels war – People want peace”.

Main photo source: Greenpeace/Will Rose

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