India Sails to Rescue of Russian Oil Tankers Hit by Sanctions


Russian oil tankers unable to get safety certifications because of Ukraine war-related sanctions have found a saviour in India.

The move by the Indian Register of Shipping is keeping state-owned Sovcomflot’s tanker fleet afloat and ensuring it can continue exports to India of Russian oil.

The register, known as IRClass, certifies that ships are safe and seaworthy, which is essential for securing insurance and for gaining access to ports.

IRClass has certified more than 80 ships managed by SCF Management Services (Dubai), a United Arab Emirates-based entity listed as a subsidiary on Sovcomflot’s website.

An Indian shipping source familiar with the certification process said most of Sovcomflot’s Russian oil tankers had now migrated to IRClass.


India Steps Up Purchase of Russian Oil

Russia’s crude oil sector, hit by strict sanctions due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has been forced to seek buyers outside the West while turning to Russian transporters and insurers to handle its exports.

India, which has refrained from condemning Russia given its longstanding security ties, has sharply boosted Russian crude oil purchases in recent months.

India’s ship certifier is one of 11 members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), top-tier certifiers that account for more than 90% of the world’s cargo-carrying tonnage.

The Russia Maritime Register of Shipping was also part of the group until March, when its membership was withdrawn following a vote by 75% of IACS members.

Membership in IACS, which sets technical standards, typically makes a certifier more attractive for insurers, ports, flag registries and shipowners seeking safety assurances.

The four leading IACS members, from the UK, Norway, France and the US, have stopped services to Russian oil tankers’ owners due to the sanctions.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell





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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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