EU diplomats say that Russian oil tankers are not targeted in EU sanctions proposal

Russian oil tankers are not being targeted in the European Commission’s proposal for tightening the implementation of a price cap on the country’s crude oil, reports Reuters, citing EU diplomats.

The UK Financial Times had reported earlier on Wednesday that Denmark could inspect and potentially block Russian oil tankers sailing through its waters, as part of new European Union plans for enforcing more efficiently a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian crude (see yesterday’s IMN).

That announcement caused some puzzlement among marine legal experts, which said that any such action by Denmark could well be a contravention of UNCLOS. Denmark seemed to qualify any statement it might have made when it said that such inspections would only take place under specific circumstances. It was also noted that the vessels available to Denmark would be very small when it came to trying to stop a large oil tanker.

The FT had said that Denmark would target tankers carrying Russian oil that did not have Western insurance. However, one EU diplomat told Reuters that “we have seen nothing about it in the Commission proposal,” while two others confirmed they found no such reference in the proposal.

Russia sends about a third of its seaborne oil exports, or 1.5% of global supply, through the Danish straits.

When asked about the FT report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have information contained in the report, but that “everyone should be cautioned in advance about the need to comply with all the rules of international commercial shipping”.

When asked whether Russia would consider sending warships to escort tankers carrying Russian oil if Denmark tried to block the route, Peskov said Russia did not take such serious decisions based merely on unconfirmed newspaper reports. “Are you proposing discussing such serious things based on the publication of a newspaper that does not even have a link to anyone specific?” Peskov said. “Let’s wait for tangible information, and then we’ll talk about what to do.”