Japan-based news outlet Nikkei Asia has claimed that secret shipments of Russian oil were reaching Europe despite Western sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine.
Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, as many as 41 vessels made ship-to-ship transfers of oil off the coast of Greece with tankers that left Russia and then arrived at European ports.
The report further said Western countries have imposed sanctions to isolate Russia, but if the shipment of Russian oil continues, the effects of the sanctions will be limited.
An oil transfer was seen in the Gulf of Laconia in the south of Greece, and the transfer took place between the Greek-registered Sea Falcon and the Indian-flagged Jak Log, it said.
The story included video footage from the site.
From a civilian boat, reporter Riho Nagao said she was heading to Greek territorial waters, where ship-to-ship oil transfers were taking place. She marked the Gulf of Laconia on the electronic tablet map in her hand.
Noting that the gulf is located outside Greek territorial waters, Nagao said many boats have gathered in the region for the same purpose.
"It seems that there is a lot of ship-to-ship oil transfer in the Laconian Gulf and locals are afraid of environmental destruction.”
Looking for an answer to the question "Where is the oil going?" Nikkei Asia stated that they examined data from Refinitiv, a financial market data provider, to determine the route of the tankers that left Russian ports and which vessels contacted them.
The data covered waters off the Mediterranean coast of Greece, where ship-to-ship transfer frequently occurs. Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from the vessels were monitored to identify their routes.
Changes in the vessels' draft, the distance from the waterline to the bottom of the hull, which increases when a ship is heavily loaded, were checked to determine the number of ship-to-ship transfers.
Ships to European ports
Nikkei Asia said it detected 175 transfers, including tankers from Russia, off the Greek coast over the six months until the end of August, compared with only nine such transfers in the same period last year.
According to Refinitiv, Russia exported 23.8 million barrels of oil for ship-to-ship transfers off the coast of Greece, compared with 4.34 million barrels in the same period of last year.
The routes of the tankers were followed and it was determined that 89 tankers arrived at ports -- out of which 41 anchored in Greece, Belgium, and elsewhere in Europe.
It was revealed that the waters near Greece are an important hub for oil shipments between Russia and Europe.
EU will completely ban the import of Russian oil in February 2023. The UK will impose a full embargo on Russian oil in December.
Russian oil exports to the EU amounted to 2.8 million barrels in July, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). This was recorded as a 26% decrease compared to January.
While the EU and the UK plan to ban the import of Russian oil completely by the end of 2022, companies that continue to buy Russian oil face criticism.