Greek Navy Extends Advisory to Prevent Ship-to-Ship Oil Transfers

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The Greek navy has extended its advisory prohibiting ship traffic off the southeastern coast of the Peloponnese. This advisory is specifically aimed at deterring ship-to-ship transfers of Russian oil near Greece, according to two sources.

Greece has taken the unusual step of issuing two NAVTEX notices for military exercises in the Laconian Gulf area in recent weeks. These notices urge merchant and other vessels to avoid the specified area. One of the notices was issued on May 1. The extension of the advisory until May 9 was announced by an unnamed official from the defense ministry.

Trading Russian crude and oil products has become increasingly challenging due to international sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. As a result, traders are seeking ways to bypass these restrictions, including offshore ship-to-ship transfers. Greek waters, particularly the southern coast and the Laconian Gulf, have become popular locations for such oil transfer activities.

To avoid inspections by Greek authorities, vessels engaged in ship-to-ship transfers position themselves beyond the six-nautical-mile limit from the shore. This makes it difficult for Greek officials to legally inspect foreign-flagged vessels in international waters. Consequently, the extension of the NAVTEX advisory is seen as an indirect means to prevent these transfer activities.

According to a third government official, Athens intends to extend the maritime advisories for military exercises in the area. This strategy aims to discourage ship-to-ship transfers close to Greek waters. In April, Reuters reported that four tankers were stranded near the Laconian Gulf due to US sanctions related to Iran.

Russia is facing challenges with the loss of insurance and other shipping services as Western countries impose financial sanctions. Last month, European Union sources indicated that the European Commission is likely to propose sanctions on oil tankers in the "shadow fleet." These tankers transport Russian oil beyond the oil price cap limit imposed by the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

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