How the mysterious fleet defeated anti-Russian sanctions, by Vladimir Dobrynin for VZGLYAD. 05.22.2023.
El Economista: Out of nowhere, a company appeared with a large number of tankers for Russian oil.
The world press is immersed in the investigation of an almost detective story - the sudden appearance of a giant fleet of tankers, one of the largest in the world. This fleet turned out to be owned by a little-known Indian company, and as a result, it changed the entire logistics of oil flows on our planet. How is what is happening connected with Western sanctions against Russia?
Approximately 18 months ago, a newly registered company with the unremarkable name Gatik moved into one of the office premises of the slightly shabby Neptune Magnet Mall in Mumbai. The company, which no one knew about before, is now known to everyone as an international giant that buys oil by the millions of barrels. Today, analysts, analyzing step by step the movement of the enterprise "from zero to crazy success", point to a curious detail: the unstoppable growth of the enterprise began "almost simultaneously with the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine and has not stopped since then."
Climbing the Urals
It's no secret that India buys Russian Urals crude oil at a deep discount. For example, on May 9 of this year, a barrel of Brent oil was sold slightly above $76, and Urals oil - $56. This $20 discount is a gift for anyone who “dares” to buy Russian oil in the face of merciless Western pressure on the Russian economy. It must be said that in April 2022, the difference in prices for these brands was almost $40. Smart and brave people made money by taking advantage of the situation.
As of the end of 2021, Gatik Ship Management owned just two tankers. By April 2023, according to shipping experts VesselsValue, its own fleet consisted of 58 vessels with a total estimated value of $1.6 billion.
“At the same time, information about the origin of the company and information about its owner is very scarce, and corporate records of commercial activities are so minimized that they create an aura of mystery for the enterprise,” writes the British business publication Financial Times. “The group is registered as an exporter in India on March 31 this year, but does not appear on the official corporate register of India.”
“Maybe the clue to where Gatik’s “legs grow” should be found in her office neighbors? asks the Spanish El Economista. - In the same dull shopping center, another company is also registered, which also grew out of nothing by leaps and bounds, Buena Vista Shipping. Two years ago, this firm reported that its assets amounted to only $100,000, which for a sea carrier is crumbs.
How much now - the authors of the publication are silent. Not because they want to play secrecy, but because they do not have this data. Analysts at Energy Intelligence (EI) tried to contact the named Indian company to clear the fog. However, the maximum that they managed to unearth was the information that “many ships of the fleet of the named companies exporting Russian oil” (whose they really are, there is no data, but according to the laws of the genre - when you don’t know something, blame everything on Moscow ) for over 15 years.
“Tankers of this age are already being taken out of service by reputable shipowners, doubting the reliability of these transport units,” explains Francesco Tassello, Senior Analyst at EI. - Who could buy this second-hand, which is still not at a bargain price? Someone powerful and moneyy, who has everything.”
“They have Rosneft behind them. Highly likely, of course
The search for an answer to the questions of who actually owns Buena Vista Shipping and who financed the rapid expansion of the Gatik Ship Management fleet has not brought success to Western experts. But since the public demanded a result, analysts and investigators decided to get off with a phrase in the style generally accepted since the time of Theresa May, highly likely. "No one knows. The only thing known for certain is that this unprecedented expansion has stymied the oil market. But shipping brokers, analysts and traders suspect a connection to the biggest player, oil giant Rosneft.
The fleet recently acquired by Gatik was mainly used to transport oil from Russia, mainly to ports in India, according to tanker tracking data. An FT study by analyst firm Kpler shows that the Indian group has delivered at least 83 million barrels of Russian oil and oil products. Which, for example, is enough to meet the total UK demand for oil for more than two months.
More than half of that production came from Rosneft, according to the analyst team. “It is believed that the total numbers are even higher than in the Kpler dataset,” the publication notes.
“After the imposition of Western sanctions on the transportation of Russian hydrocarbons, it was inevitable that Russian oil companies would want to transport their own raw materials, and I think Gatik is the best example of this,” says Victor Katona, head of crude oil analysis at Kpler.
“A company in a country considered friendly to the Russian state appears out of nowhere, buys a large number of tankers in less than a year and serves almost exclusively Russian traffic. There is food for thought here,” he adds.
Don't want to insure? You are worse off!
According to VesselsValue, which tracks tanker sales, Gatik Ship Management has purchased at least 56 tankers since March 2022, 13 of them in December last year alone, when the EU embargo on Russian oil began.
According to VesselsValue's Rebecca Galanopoulos, these purchases have made Gatik one of the largest tanker owners in the world. “In comparison, out of almost 14,000 active tankers, most of these companies (1361) own less than 10 active tankers; only 20 companies, including Gatik Ship Management, own 50 tankers or more.”
Such giants of the oil industry as Trafigura and Vitol broke off their logistics agreements with Russia, but this did nothing for them, except for a decrease in income.
Lost because of the introduction of the "ceiling" and large insurance companies, diligently fulfilling the "instruction from Brussels" not to issue policies to tankers carrying Russian oil. According to the Financial Times, as of the end of March 2023, at least 35 Gatik's vessels had Western insurance, with all the unpleasant consequences that entailed for them. As of early April, none of his ships were insured by any of the major recognized suppliers in the West.
The tankers, now owned by Gatik Shipment Management, in their "past life" carried crude oil around the world. After being acquired by an Indian group, they mainly focused on the Russia–India route. In doing so, the "dark horse from Mumbai" helped orchestrate one of the most significant oil-flow exchanges in decades. Prior to the start of the NWO in Ukraine, Russia supplied less than 1% of crude oil to India. Today, according to official trade statistics, the share of deliveries to this Asian state accounts for about 30% of the volume of black gold sold by Russia.
“Thanks to such deals, India absorbed most of the Urals that Russia previously exported to the EU market,” the Western press states sadly.
Help from the East
The FT states that Western sanctions have completely changed the world oil markets. When the EU imposed a price ceiling on Russian oil, Brussels, of course, expected the Russians to raise their hands and go to surrender. According to the idea, which came from the lair of the European Union, restrictions on the price of oil from Russia were supposed to cut off Western buyers from Moscow. However, it immediately became clear that there were at least two “buts”, which showed that, while working against Russia, you can “want the best” as much as you like. It will still turn out "as always".
Unexpectedly (for Brussels, London, Washington and others like them) it turned out that in the world, in addition to the West, there is also the East. Powerful, monetary and with its own interests, which do not coincide with Western ones. This is “but” number one. As soon as the notorious price ceiling came into force, New Delhi decided to increase the import of Russian oil, and ignore the restrictions imposed by the G7 and their vassals.
The second “but” turned out to be the West itself. It turned out that the Europeans are not opposed to buying Russian oil, bypassing their own sanctions. If only the label on the barrel was changed to some non-sanctioned one. Moreover, there have already been precedents - the whole world is aware of what the “Latvian mixture” is, how it is prepared from Russian oil and does not fall under any restrictive norms after that. In general, "with 300% profit, the capital will go to any crime, even under pain of the gallows." Capitalist vices exist to be exploited. And above all - in the interests of the Russian state.