N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attempts to whip up public opinion against seaborne Russian oil exports, particularly the Greek tankers that carry big part of it. ‘We see Greek companies providing almost the largest tanker fleet for the transportation of Russian oil’, Zelensky told an Economist conference in Athens last week, speaking via weblink. ‘I am sure that this does not meet the interests of the EU, Greece or Ukraine. This just one example of the need for even greater unity, so that Russia forced to seek peaceful solutions’.
Greeks are the world’s biggest tanker owners and were the most active transporters of Russian oil, even before the invasion of Ukraine in February. Their market share has increased since, according to market observers, as several Western shipping companies self-sanction from the trade, for ‘moral reasons’ or to avoid bad press in their countries. Seven of the nine owners whose vessels made multiple deliveries of crude to India were Greek, according to data from the Finland-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
But what is the problem? Greek shipowner Evangelos Marinakis said Greek oil transports are in line with current EU sanctions that allow Russian crude imports till the end of the year. He also said that EU’s dependence on Russian oil cannot be overcome overnight. And ‘What the Greek tonnage is transporting is oil that has been already contracted and is fully approved by the EU’.
Fellow Greek owner Angeliki Frangou beat the same drum. ‘Governments do the policy and create the trading patterns, (they) make the rules, we follow them’, she said. It is duly noted!