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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Denmark Seeks to Stop Shadow Tanker Fleet Carrying Russian Oil

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 17, 2024

© Vladimir / Adobe Stock

© Vladimir / Adobe Stock

Denmark is considering ways to stop a so-called shadow fleet of tankers from carrying Russian oil through the Baltic Sea, the Nordic country said on Monday, triggering a sharp response from Moscow's diplomats who said any such move would be unacceptable.

Russia sends about a third of its seaborne oil exports, or 1.5% of global supply, through the Danish straits that sit as a gateway to the Baltic Sea, so any attempt to halt supplies could send oil prices higher and hit the Kremlin's finances.

Since Western nations imposed a price cap on Russia's oil in an attempt to curb vital funds for its war in Ukraine, Russia has relied on a fleet of often ageing tankers based and insured outside the West.

Denmark has brought together a group of allied countries to evaluate measures that would target this fleet, Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told Reuters in an emailed statement.

He did not say what measures were being considered.

"There is broad consensus that the shadow fleet is an international problem and that international solutions are required," Lokke Rasmussen said.

"It's important that any new measures can be implemented in practice and that they are legally sound with regards to international law," he added.

Countries involved in the talks included other Baltic Sea states and European Union members, the minister said.

Imposing restrictions on ships passing through the straits would be unacceptable, Russia's ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin, told Reuters.

"The threat to the safety of navigation and the marine environment in the Baltic Sea are not the tankers with Russian oil, but the sanctions imposed by the West against Russia," Barbin said.

"This is what the coalition of states established at Denmark's initiative should be thinking about," he added.

The unimpeded passage of ships through Danish waters was guaranteed by the Copenhagen Treaty of 1857, which remains valid and legally binding, the ambassador said.

Denmark is concerned that old tankers transporting oil through its straits represent a potential danger to the environment.

(Reuters - Reporting by Louise Rasmussen; Editing by Terje Solsvik, Mark Potter and Christina Fincher)