The price of Russia’s flagship oil may have jumped above a Group of Seven imposed cap but that has done little to impede the provision of western services for the trade.
(Bloomberg) — The price of Russia’s flagship oil may have jumped above a Group of Seven imposed cap but that has done little to impede the provision of western services for the trade.
The number of ships calling at the nation’s ports that are either western owned or insured has fallen slightly since early July — before Urals rose above $60 — but they still represent a vital part of Moscow’s petroleum supply chain.
About 40% of vessels lifting crude from Russia’s Baltic and Black Sea ports were owned by companies based in countries signed up to the cap. Before the threshold was beached, about half were western owned. A large number also still have insurance routed through London.
Though technically the price of Russian oil needs to be $60 or less in order for companies in the US, EU or G-7 to provide services such as vessels and insurance, all the firms need to do so in practice is receive a written pledge — called an attestation — that the cargo was purchased below that threshold.
The cap is working and Russian oil revenue is down almost 50% from a yeaer earlier, said Megan Apper a spokesperson for the US Treasury.
“We are monitoring the market closely for potential violations of the price cap,” she said. “It is worth noting that trades above $60 that do not use Coalition services are not in violation of the price cap and a substantial proportion of Russian oil trades still use coalition service providers.”
It’s unclear the extent to which individual owners and insurers are doing additional due diligence for the cargoes, or what the reasons are for them to continue providing their services.
However, owners and insurers have long argued that it is impossible for them to know the exact price a cargo trades at, as longer-term deals could differ from short-term market prices. There are no restrictions on service providers outside of EU and G-7 nations.
Shipowners and insurers have been seeking clarity in recent weeks as to whether only having an attestation that a cargo was purchased below $60 is sufficient, given Argus Media Ltd. has been quoting the country’s flagship Urals grade above that level since mid-July.
It stood at about $71 a barrel on Friday at Russia’s Baltic and Black Sea ports, according to Argus.
Insurers have complained publicly about the risks of covering cargoes using the attestation system in recent months.
There has also been a drop off in the number of ships calling at Russian ports with industry-standard insurance from members of the International Group of P&I Clubs, which itself is based in London.
That figure has fallen from almost 60% of port calls in the weeks prior to Urals breaching the cap to about 45%. Insurers usually have standard policies that state cover is voided if a cargo or voyage is in breach of sanctions.
Bloomberg checked individual ship-ownership details using the Equasis maritime database and insurance status from data on the International Group’s website.
–With assistance from Julian Lee, Sherry Su and Christopher Condon.
(Updates with Treasury statement in fifth and sixth paragraphs.)
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