Oil tanker hit by US sanctions reaches Texas for unloading

Last week the US took a new step in its attempt to keep the price cap on Russian oil under control. It sanctioned two named vessels – crude oil tanker SCF Primorye (IMO 9421960) and the Yasa Golden Bosphorus (IMO 9334038) (IMN October 16th).

Unfortunately the action brought into the spotlight the somewhat nebulous nature of the physical vessels that carry the oil. One of them, the Yasa Golden Bosphorus, might have been involved in price-cap breaking in the past, but in the present it was on a three to five-month charter with the oil major ExxonMobil, which has never had anything to do with contravening price caps. More embarrassingly, at the time of the US announcement the ship was carrying certified Canadian-origin crude to Houston, Texas.

Following hurried discussions with US regulators, the Yasa Golden Bosphorus duly arrived at the Baytown refinery on October 18th and prepared to unload.

Exxon was not targeted by the sanctions as it had chartered the tanker months after it had carried and offloaded Russian oil. The unloading by Exxon has been authorized by OFAC, the company said.

The US government had also placed sanctions on Turkiye-based Ice Pearl Navigation SA, owner of the Yasa Golden Bosphorus, which the Treasury said carried Russian ESPO crude priced above $80 a barrel after the cap took effect in December last year.

US service providers would not be at risk of sanctions if they had been provided false or misleading information by others in the shipping chain. The US Treasury had not made any explicit statement on whether or not there was misleading information in the documentation provided to Exxon.

The operator of the vessel is Turkiye-based Yasa Holding. It had said last week that it had necessary documentation from major London insurers for it to carry Russian origin cargoes, but that it had been company policy for more than a year to not carry Russian crude.

2009-built, Liberia-flagged, 84,029 gt SCF Primorye is owned by Lumber Marine SA care of Sun Ship management of Dubai, UAE.

2007-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 61,342 gt Yasa Golden Bosphorus is owned by Ice Pearl Navigation Corp care of manager Ya-Sa tanker Isletmeciligi AS of Istanbul, Turkiye. The vessel is listed on the Britannia web site as entered with Britannia on behalf of Ice Pearl Navigation Corp.

Britannia had said last week that it was liaising directly with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and other regulators on the ship but couldn’t comment further. Insurers generally have standard clauses that cancel a ship’s cover if it breaches sanctions. As of October 19th was in Baytown, Houston, Texas, USA, having left Sainte Victor, Canada, on July 3rd.