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OFAC issues warning on possible evasion of Russian oil price cap

OFAC is aware of reports ESPO and other crudes exported via Pacific ports in Russian Federation may be trading above the price cap and may be using covered services provided by U.S. persons.

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Monday (17 April) issued an alert to warn U.S. persons about possible evasion of the price cap on crude oil of Russian Federation origin (Russian oil), particularly involving oil exported through the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline and ports on the eastern coast of the Russian Federation: 

As explained in greater detail in OFAC Guidance on Implementation of the Price Cap Policy for Crude Oil and Petroleum Products of Russian Federation Origin (Price Cap Guidance), U.S. persons are authorized to provide certain services (covered services) related to the maritime transport of Russian oil as long as that oil was purchased at or below the relevant price cap. To implement the price cap policy, OFAC issued two determinations pursuant to Executive Order 14071, one for Russian oil and one for petroleum products (the crude determination and the petroleum products determination, or, collectively, the price cap determinations). U.S. persons providing covered services are required to reject participating in an evasive transaction or a transaction that violates the price cap determinations, and to report such a transaction to OFAC.

For ship owners, protection and indemnity clubs, and flagging registries

Deceptive Practices, Including AIS Manipulation to Disguise Russian Port Calls: OFAC is aware of reports that ESPO and other crudes exported via Pacific ports in the Russian Federation, such as Kozmino, may be trading above the price cap and may be using covered services provided by U.S. persons. These U.S. service providers may be unaware that they are providing covered services involving Russian oil purchased above the price cap, as the non-U.S. persons involved in the exports may have provided incomplete or false documentation or used other deceptive practices.

Specifically, some tankers may be manipulating their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), a practice known as “spoofing,” to disguise the fact that they have called at the port of Kozmino or other ports on the Russian Federation’s eastern coastline. For example, basic vessel tracking data may show the tanker at one location, but more sophisticated reporting from maritime intelligence services may show that the vessel called at the port of Kozmino or another eastern port in the Russian Federation. Spoofing can also be used to mask ship-to-ship transfers carried out to disguise the origin of Russian oil. U.S. persons providing covered services to tankers should view AIS manipulation that disguises a tanker’s port of call in the Russian Federation as evidence of possible evasion of the price cap.

As explained in greater detail in OFAC Guidance on Implementation of the Price Cap Policy for Crude Oil and Petroleum Products of Russian Federation Origin (Price Cap Guidance), U.S. persons are authorized

to provide certain services (covered services) related to the maritime transport of Russian oil as long as that oil was purchased at or below the relevant price cap. To implement the price cap policy, OFAC

issued two determinations pursuant to Executive Order 14071, one for Russian oil and one for petroleum products (the crude determination and the petroleum products determination, or, collectively, the price cap determinations). U.S. persons providing covered services are required to

reject participating in an evasive transaction or a transaction that violates the price cap determinations, and to report such a transaction to OFAC.

Recommended Measures to Ensure Price Cap Compliance: Good-faith actors, including shipowners and

other service providers, can use the recordkeeping and attestations described in the Price Cap Guidance to be afforded safe harbor from OFAC enforcement if someone causes them to inadvertently violate the price cap determinations. At the same time, U.S. service providers, especially ship owners, protection and indemnity clubs, and flagging registries, should be mindful of the risk of evasion for some ESPO and other crudes exported via Pacific ports in the Russian Federation and should take appropriate due diligence measures, such as:

  • Disseminating this alert to counterparties or members.
  • Using maritime intelligence services to improve detection of AIS manipulate

For commodities brokers/oil traders

Opaque Shipping Costs: As noted in the Price Cap Guidance, shipping, freight, customs, and insurance costs are not included in the price caps. The failure to itemize these costs can be used to obfuscate the fact that Russian oil was purchased above the price cap. 

Recommended Measures to Ensure Price Cap Compliance: In order for Tier 1 actors (defined in the Price Cap Guidance as actors who regularly have direct access to price information, such as commodities traders) to be afforded the safe harbor explained in the Price Cap Guidance, they must retain documents showing that Russian oil or Russian petroleum products were purchased at or below the relevant price cap. Examples of these documents include invoices, contracts, and receipts/proof of payment. OFAC notes that such documents do not need to make any mention of the price cap in order for the Tier 1 actor to be afforded the safe harbor. However, shipping, freight, customs, and insurance costs must be invoiced separately from the purchase price of the Russian oil and must be at commercially reasonable rates. A refusal by a counterparty to provide documentation showing Russian oil or Russian petroleum products were purchased at or below the price cap (when, for example, the total price inclusive of other costs is above the cap) should be considered a red flag for possible evasion of the price cap. 

Related: IMO: Addressing ship-to-ship oil transfers and tankers in the ‘dark fleet’

 

Photo credit: CHUTTERSNAP from Unsplash
Published: 18 April, 2023

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Winding up

Singapore: Liquidators arrange creditors meeting for Otto Marine Limited

Meeting will be held from 3pm on 24 July at 8 Wilkie Road #03-08 Wilkie Edge Singapore 228095, according to Government Gazette notice.

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A meeting for creditors of Otto Marine Limited, which is in liquidation, has been scheduled to take place on 24 July, according to a Government Gazette notice on Thursday (11 July). 

The meeting will be held from 3pm at 8 Wilkie Road #03-08 Wilkie Edge Singapore 228095

The agenda of the meeting will be as follows:

  • To update on the liquidation administration;
  • To approve the Liquidators’ fees and disbursements;
  • To approve the declaration of preferential dividend(s) pursuant to Section
  • 328(1)(b) to 328(1)(f) of the Companies Act, Cap. 50;
  • To consider and if thought fit, to appoint a committee of inspection; and
  • Any other business.

The details of the liquidators are as follows: 

Chee Yoh Chuang
Lin Yueh Hung
Liquidators
c/o 8 Wilkie Road
#03-08 Wilkie Edge
Singapore 228095

 

Photo credit: steve pb from Pixabay
Published: 12 July, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Titan completes first STS LNG bunkering operation in Cuxhaven

Port of Cuxhaven in Germany had previously only seen LNG operations conducted via truck and currently only permits LNG bunkering at one berth, says Titan.

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Titan completes first STS LNG bunkering operation in Cuxhaven

LNG bunker fuel supplier Titan on Thursday (11 July) said it completed the first-ever LNG bunkering operation by ship in the port of Cuxhaven.

Titan’s bunker vessel Optimus successfully delivered LNG to dredger Vox Ariane operated by its long-term client Van Oord. 

“Our ship-to-ship bunkering in Cuxhaven represents a pioneering step in the region's LNG infrastructure development, as the port had previously only seen LNG operations conducted via truck and currently only permits LNG bunkering at one berth,” it said in a social media post. 

“LNG infrastructure development is part of a broader trend, with more ports across Germany adopting LNG operations to support shipping’s clean fuels transition.”

Titan added the improved LNG bunkering capabilities in Cuxhaven, a Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG port, also opened up the pathway to maritime decarbonisation via liquified biomethane (LBM) and then renewable e-methane going forward.

 

Photo credit: Titan
Published: 12 July, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

UECC “Auto Achieve” receives first LNG bunker fuel delivery by barge in home country

Firm said it received the first ever supply of LNG by barge to their multi-fuel LNG battery hybrid car carrier in the Port of Drammen, Norway.

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UECC “Auto Achieve” receives first LNG bunker fuel delivery by barge in home country

Norwegian roll-on/roll-off shipping line United European Car Carriers (UECC) on Wednesday (10 July) said it received the first ever supply of LNG by barge to their multi-fuel LNG battery hybrid car carrier Auto Achieve in the Port of Drammen on 4 July.

The firm said this was the first time UECC received LNG by barge to any of their vessels in their home country Norway. 

“We also believe that it was the first time LNG was delivered by barge to any vessel in Drammen, and most likely the entire Oslofjord,” UECC said in a social media post.

The LNG was supplied by the Molgas Energy Holding vessel Pioneer Knutsen, owned by Knutsen Group OAS.

“UECC is very pleased to see the expansion of the LNG barge network in Norway,” it said. 

 

Photo credit: UECC
Published: 12 July, 2024

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