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Sanctioned Tankers Could Undermine India’s Push to Buy Cheap Russian Oil

India is still considering whether to allow a now-sanctioned tanker carrying Russian oil to approach and dock at one of its ports—a sign that the U.S. clampdown on Russian crude trade could limit India’s ability to buy and import cheaper oil.  

The NS Century tanker is owned by Russia’s state-owned fleet owner Sovcomflot and is flying the flag of Liberia. The Aframax vessel has been floating for 10 days about 1,600 miles off the Indian port of Vadinar, where it was planned to deliver its cargo of Russia’s Sokol grade, Bloomberg reports, citing tanker-tracking data.

NS Century has been floating off Sri Lanka since November 17, a day after the U.S. sanctioned several maritime companies and three vessels for transporting Russian oil above the G7-set price cap.

The U.S. said on November 16 that the vessels Kazan, Ligovsky Prospect, and NS Century engaged in the export of Russian crude oil priced above $60 per barrel after the crude oil price cap took effect. The Kazan, Ligovsky Prospect, and NS Century used U.S.-person services while transporting the Russian-origin crude oil.   

The Directorate General of Shipping in India told Bloomberg last week that it was still waiting for government guidance on whether the NS Century would be allowed to unload its cargo at the Indian port. 

The West is considering toughening up the sanction enforcement on evaders of the price cap on Russian oil, almost none of which now trades below the ceiling of $60 per barrel.

Last month, the United States took a tougher stance on the sanctions against Russia and sanctioned two vessels for violating the price cap.

Last week, Reuters reported that three major Greek shipping firms had halted the transport of Russian crude due to the heightened risk of facing U.S. sanctions.

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Greek shippers Minerva Marine, TMS Tankers, and Thenamaris have stopped carrying Russian oil to customers in the Middle East, Asia, Turkey, Africa, and South America, Reuters reported, citing trade sources and shipping data.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 28 2023 said:
    India doesn’t recognize Western sanctions against Russia and therefore it won’t stop buying Russian crude oil even if it was carried by tankers sanctioned by the United States.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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