WSJ: Russia enlists more allies to help circumvent Western sanctions

Russian companies are circumventing Western sanctions when transporting their oil by registering their ships under the flag of Gabon, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the publication, the country’s ship registry currently has more than 100 tankers, about 70 of which are part of a “shadow fleet” of tankers intended for the sanctioned oil trade.

Russia and Iran have begun registering ships in their “shadow fleet” to circumvent restrictions in the form of a price ceiling on oil and petroleum products imposed by G7 countries in Gabon, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Smaller nations have long offered shipowners cheaper registration fees, lower taxes and less stringent inspections. And now more and more companies are resorting to their services: vessels flying foreign flags account for up to 15% of all tankers at sea.

According to the newspaper, since the beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine and the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions, Gabon’s ship registry has grown six times and has become the second largest in Africa, although the country was not previously known for its strong maritime industry. At the moment, the country’s ship registry has more than 100 tankers. Lloyd’s List Intelligence estimates that more than 70 of these vessels belong to unknown owners and are part of a shadow fleet of tankers destined for the sanctioned oil trade.