Sanctions can affect every operator: The Swedish Club

It isn’t just tanker operators who needed to be aware of the dangers of sanctions, said Torbjörn Claesson, Corporate Lawyer at The Swedish Club, speaking at the recent Marine Insurance Nordics conference in Oslo. Operators running bulk carriers and container ships could also be impacted by sanctions.

“Container ships, for example, can carry potentially thousands of articles that are sanctioned,” he said. “Bulk carrier operators too have to be careful. The issue with Russian sanctions is that they target many industries – but not all – and also many products – but with specific exceptions. For example, a bulk carrier operator cannot carry aluminium. There is only one exception relating to aluminium of a thickness of less than 0.2 mm – which clearly is too thin to be carried on a bulk carrier.”

Claesson also pointed out that unsuspecting operators could be caught up in the sanctions web. “If there is a collision with a vessel that has Russian cargo on board, then the Club must ask questions relating to that cargo before committing to issuing security. And since the cargo – potentially – could be sanctioned, this would then have a spill-over effect on how to handle the claim”.

Claesson observed that five to 10 years ago the issue of sanctions more directly affected owners trading to a select few places in the world, “but today it has become a part of everyday life – whether on claims, underwriting or other aspects of our operations.”

While previously the shipping insurance industry was more indirectly affected, “today, insurance and brokering are specifically set out in the sanctions legislation. That means that the insurance industry is now directly impacted by sanctions – we are part of the regulations”, concluded Claesson.