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Countries call on flag states to crack down on dark STS oil transfers

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Australia, Canada and the US have made a joint submission to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to debate ways to end the use of ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of Russian crude oil.

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Russia has widely been accused of using a “dark fleet” of vessels to carry out STS transfers of its crude oil and bypass Western sanctions on Moscow’s exports in the aftermath of the Ukraine invasion. The practice of going dark involves hiding a ship’s identity and ownership, the joint IMO submission from Australia, Canada and US says.

The countries want the IMO to call upon flag states to ensure that their tankers adhere to international laws and safety requirements around STS transfers. The IMO will bring up the issue at the next meeting of its Legal Committee from March 27.

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“While ship-to-ship transfers may be a legitimate practice, ship-to-ship crude oil transfers in international waters are being used to disguise the cargoes’ destinations or origins or avoid oversight or regulation by flag or coastal States, as appropriate,” the submission says.

The three nations say that the practice increases the risk of oil spills and collisions at sea. It also results in shipowners evading their liabilities under various international conventions.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News