EU clamps down on ship-to-ship transfers breaching Russian oil import ban

In a bid to tighten the enforcement of existing sanctions against Russia, the European Union has implemented a comprehensive 11th package of measures, including significant restrictions on ship-to-ship transfers. The new regulations, adopted by the Council, aim to curb circumvention tactics employed by vessels suspected of breaching the Russian oil import ban or the G7 Coalition price cap.

Courtesy of the European Commission/Photo by Mauro Bottaro

Under the latest sanctions, vessels engaged in ship-to-ship transfers deemed in violation of the aforementioned restrictions will face a prohibition from accessing EU ports. The move comes as part of the EU’s broader efforts to deter illicit practices and ensure compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia.

Ship-to-ship transfers, a common practice in the maritime industry, involve the transfer of goods, including oil, between two vessels at sea. However, concerns have been raised regarding the misuse of such transfers to evade sanctions and facilitate illicit activities.

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The EU’s ban on access to EU ports for vessels involved in suspicious ship-to-ship transfers is intended to address these concerns head-on. To further strengthen monitoring and control, vessels will now be required to notify the competent authority at least 48 hours in advance of any ship-to-ship transfer taking place within a Member State’s Exclusive Economic Zone or within 12 nautical miles of the state’s coast.

By imposing these measures, the European Union aims to clamp down on any attempts to bypass existing sanctions and ensure greater adherence to international rules and norms.

The broader 11th package of sanctions also encompasses various sectors, including trade, energy, and additional listings. The measures include the introduction of an anti-circumvention tool to restrict the sale, supply, transfer, or export of specified sanctioned goods and technology to high-risk third countries suspected of attempting to circumvent the sanctions. Moreover, the package expands the list of entities subject to asset freezes, targeting individuals and organizations involved in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.