India’s dark fleet ships Russia’s oil
May 25, 2023 - Mumbai-based Gatik Ship Management owned just two tankers in 2021. Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, it has purchased 56 vessels to transport oil from Russia, mainly to ports in India.
In February, the International Group of P&I Clubs’ 13 members withdrew protection and indemnity cover from all but a handful of tankers operated by Mumbai-based Gatik.
The move came as Russian oil exports from its eastern ports regularly traded above the US$60-a-barrel price cap set by the G7, EU and Australia in December last year.
Although the coalition agreed to impose a cap in early September, it was not until December that they applied the $60 cap. The three-month gap triggered a ship-buying binge.
According to shipping experts, VesselsValue, anonymous purchasers have spent about $3.8 billion on 187 tankers since the war began, with Gatik’s 58 vessels costing an estimated $1.6 billion.
Before the Ukraine war, Russia supplied less than 1 per cent of India’s crude. According to official trade statistics, it now accounts for about 30 per cent.
The New Delhi government has vehemently defended its trade with Russia despite U.S. threats, saying it has to source oil from where it is cheapest.