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Ukraine calls for stricter sanctions on Russian ports, citing Chevron tanker

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Ukraine calls for stricter sanctions on Russian ports, citing Chevron tanker

A top adviser to Ukraine’s president said oil tankers around the world, including many chartered by US-based companies, are carrying millions of barrels of oil out of Russian ports, as he urged the White House to ban all did. Trade in Russian oil by American companies.

In an interview from Kyiv overnight on Tuesday, Oleg Ustenko, economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, also urged chief executives of Western oil and gas companies not to conduct oil from Russia and pledged to hire independent accounting firms to verify urged to do. Russian oil is being loaded onto their ships.

“We are talking about supplying Russia with bloody money that they are using to feed a military machine that is killing my people,” Mr. Ustenko said. “We need a complete ban, a complete boycott. All Russian ports should be closed.”

Complicating the picture is the fact that the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, one of Russia’s major oil terminals, is the center of a pipeline that mixes oil from neighboring Kazakhstan with Russian oil, according to the pipeline’s operators. Experts say that this may make it difficult to trace the origin of the oil.

The continued oil trade from places like Novorossiysk – much of it with Europe, which is heavily dependent on oil and gas imports from Russia – exposed loopholes that would have allowed Russian producers to continue exporting their oil. There are, Mr. Ustenko said, and even profit. From high global oil prices, which rose sharply after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Ustenko said American companies are promoting that trade. He cited as an example a tanker chartered by US oil giant Chevron, which departed Novorossiysk on Friday carrying about 100,000 tonnes of crude and is currently en route to the Netherlands. The tanker, the Mediterranean Voyager, is carrying a mixture of crude oil, according to independent shipment data.

Separate data collected by Ukraine on ships contracted to load oil at Russian ports over the next two weeks included at least five other Chevron-chartered tankers.

In a statement, Chevron said the oil on the ship originated in Kazakhstan and that the company’s “efforts were made in compliance with US law.” The company said that “access to the Kazakh energy supply is very important for consumers around the world.” Chevron also said it had no exploration or production operations in Russia.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden banned new US imports of Russian oil, gas and coal. But those rules do not prohibit the shipping of oil, Russian or otherwise, from Russian ports to destinations in other countries. Still, Mr Ustenko said the trade violated the spirit of the embargo and urged the White House to ban US companies from handling Russian oil and gas exports regardless of destination.

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Biden administration officials have insisted that Washington’s sanctions go much further than other countries in Europe, including major US allies, that have yet to stop energy imports. Europe is particularly dependent on Russian gas, and could face an energy crunch if it cuts all supplies. Most of the world has also imposed severe financial sanctions on Moscow.

A spokesman for the National Security Council said that “due to our strong domestic energy infrastructure”, the United States was able to impose its fossil-fuel sanctions and would be deprived of Russia’s President Vladimir V, among other sanctions on Russian trade activity. Putin used the necessary resources to wage war in Ukraine. But Washington also recognizes that “not all of our allies and partners are currently in a position to engage with us,” she said.

In recent days, several Western oil and gas companies have also said they will cease operations in Russia, including abandoning joint ventures with state-owned producers. And some big carriers have said they will no longer transport Russian oil or gas, and traders have reported dwindling buyers.

Nevertheless, Ukraine forecasts that Russian ports will continue to ship at least 1.5 million barrels of crude oil and other oil-based products a day in the coming weeks – a significant drop from the four to five million barrels of crude they usually use. But used to handle it first. invasion, but enough to earn Russian producers about $700 million a day. Oil, gas and coal make up the vast majority of Russia’s exports.

Mr Ustenko in particular criticized Greek shipping companies, which he said have several tankers that continue to transport oil from Russian ports. He called on the Greek government to ban those shipments, and he called on the German government to move the European Union toward a physical oil boycott and stop Russia from paying for gas, instead holding the funds in an escrow account. After pouring out Russia filed suit. For peace.

Simon Johnson, a professor of economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said those shipments highlighted a major weakness in the US sanctions, allowing Russians to take advantage of higher oil prices and “an unexpected profit”. ” Received. profit on their business. ,

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To stop that trade, Washington needed to impose a complete sanctions – as currently imposed on Iran – that would ban US-based companies from all trade with Russia. “The The only way to deal with it is to make sure they don’t export anything,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s not complicated.”

Energy experts have warned that the blended oil from the pipeline in Novorossiysk could potentially provide a way for Russian producers to continue to extract oil with the product’s origin into global markets. According to the operators of the pipeline, it has typically mixed with about 13 percent of Russian oil over the past two decades. The consortium that owns the pipeline is 24 percent owned by the Russian state.

Agnia Grigas, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and an expert on energy and geopolitics in Eastern Europe, said the spirit of the US import embargo already prevents US companies from trading in that oil. “It is almost impossible to differentiate the origin of the oil particles,” she said.

“If that oil was purchased from Russian traders, the implications are the same,” she said, as the net effect would be that Russian traders would be making a profit from the transaction.

Biden administration officials have said the United States has tried to lead by example, but has avoided disrupting the energy needs of other countries, for example by allowing American companies to deliver Russian oil to those countries. By banning

The turmoil in the oil and gas markets has prompted calls for a more rapid transition to renewables such as wind and solar power. Mr Ustenko said the crisis could eventually prompt more investments in green energy. “In the long run, everyone is going to benefit,” he said.

Public condemnation of companies continuing to do business with Russia has intensified. Earlier this month, Royal Dutch Shell bought a shipment of Russian oil at a steep discount of just $30 a barrel and was forced to quickly pledge not to make future purchases.

In a televised address on Tuesday in Ukraine, President Zelensky urged people around the world to boycott Russian products. “Everything is in your power,” he said. “All trade with Russia must be stopped.” He is scheduled to address the US Congress on Wednesday.

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