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Spain Turns Away Maltese Tanker, Citing Russian Transshipment

Spain denies entry to tanker carry cargo transshipped from Russian vessel
Black Star is registered in Malta and managed by a Turkish shipping company (YMN Tanker photo)

Published Apr 28, 2022 12:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Spanish authorities turned away the Maltese-registered product tanker Black Star on Wednesday citing information from the EU that the vessel was carrying a transshipped Russian cargo. The 9,438 dwt vessel was requesting permission from the Capitanía Marítima de Barcelona to arrive in port when the Ministerio de Transportes and Movilidad y Agenda Urbana (Mitma) intervened, denying the vessel entry into the port and ordering it to leave Spanish waters. The ministry cited the EU sanctions on Russian shipping.

According to the General of the Merchant Marine of the Ministry of Transport, they had received information from the EU’s European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) suggesting that the product tanker had been involved in an illegal ship-to-ship transfer of cargo from a Russian vessel.

The Ministry reported that the Russian product tanker Andrey Pervozvanniy had previously requested permission to dock in the port of Barcelona. The 25,121 dwt vessel had departed Malaysia in March, making its way through the Suez Canal transporting a cargo of four oil products, including palm oil, fame, pome, and used cooking oil. The Ministry denied that tanker entry into Barcelona on Monday, April 25.

EMSA reported that it tracked the Russian vessel to an anchorage approximately 12.5 miles off the coast of Malta, where it was met by the smaller Turkish-managed tanker. The Black Star had departed Turkey earlier in the month, making a port call in Italy, and was apparently looking for cargo. The vessel traveled to the Malta anchorage where EMSA reports there was a transfer of the oil cargos from the Russian vessel over a 29-hour period between April 24 and 25. EMSA had previously warned member states to be on the lookout for transshipments from Russian vessels.

“The Barcelona Maritime Captaincy will formally send the resolution to the captain of the Black Star and the ship will have to remain outside the Spanish territorial sea, as it is an activity that circumvents the restrictive measures,” the Ministry said in its statement.

Spain cited the April 11 expansion of EU sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They noted that the sanctions prohibited giving access to EU ports to any vessel registered under the flag of Russia. 

It is the second situation in recent weeks when a member of the EU cited the sanctions as they related to transshipments. Greece detained the Russian-flagged crude oil tanker Pegas on April 15 when it anchored off the island of Evia. Reports said that they suspected the vessel was attempting to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer of its crude oil cargo, but Greece later reported that the vessel was no longer being detained for the sanctions violation. Additional reports suggested that the vessel was transporting Iranian oil, attempting to avoid sanctions on the Iranian oil trade. Lloyd’s reported this week that the tanker, which has reported multiple changes in ownership and name, remains in Greece - possibly involved in another dispute pending in the Greek courts.