A fleet of ghost ships paid for by Turkish companies is helping Russia evade sanctions and continue its war against Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Beks Ship Management has bought 37 ships since 2021, many of which are aging tankers, spending over half a billion dollars in just over two years and increasing its fleet size 10-fold. Beks, like other similar companies, is a key element in Russia’s attempts to maintain oil supplies and secure financing war in Ukraine – points out “WSJ”. The fleet transporting Russian oil includes hundreds of ships around the world, many of which are owned by companies from GreeceIndia, United Arab Emirates or Turkey. Many operate outside industry standards, often forgoing insurance from P&I companies, which insure about 90 percent. world merchant shipping. Some benefit from a parallel Russian insurance system set up after the start of the war.
Turkish Beks helps keep Russia’s economy afloat
Turkish companies, including Beks, are a particular problem. Company-owned ships are not listed as insured by P&I companies. Beks is also the fourth largest shipowner in the Russian oil trade. In recent years, Beks has experienced a number of accidents on her ships. The fleet, however, continues to sail and, along with other shipping companies, helps Russia avoid the sanction. Oil and gas revenues helped keep the Russian economy afloat even before the ruble collapsed earlier this month, prompting central bank to an extraordinary increase in interest rates this week – reminds “WSJ”.
The journal notes that USA and allies are trying to strengthen the sanctions monitoring process, including in Turkey. US officials underscore Washington’s concerns that Turkey remains the center of sanctions violations against Russia. “We are in constant talks with Ankara on this matter, and our sincere hope is to avoid a scenario where Turkish companies are sanctioned,” a Western diplomat said, commenting on Washington’s talks with the Turkish government and private sector.
Increasing sales to China and India
Ships belonging to Beks load oil at the Russian port of Kozmin on the Pacific, where the raw material is sold at prices higher than the ceiling imposed by the sanctions. The company continued to ship oil from the port even after the U.S. Treasury Department issued a warning in April against loading crude at Kozmin and other ports in the Russian Far East for breaching the price cap. The company’s management assures that it complies with the mechanism determining the price of Russian crude oil. With lower prices and such a wide range of shippers, Russia managed to increase its share of some of the world’s largest oil markets during the war, changing the way global energy supply works. In April, Moscow briefly surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest supplier to China. In India the change was even more significant; Moscow currently supplies about 40 percent. Indian oil imports compared to 3% before the war.
Main photo source: Shutterstock