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Tankers are getting stuck in the Black Sea. That could become a problem | CNN Business


A bottleneck is being created on a major trade route for oil, which if not resolved could affect global supply and increase prices in a fragile moment for energy markets.

As of Thursday, 16 oil tankers traveling south from the Black Sea were waiting to cross the Bosphorus Strait into the Sea of ​​Marmara, an increase of five since Tuesday, according to a report by the Istanbul-based Tribeca Shipping Agency. . Nine other tankers were waiting to cross south from the Sea of ​​Marmara through the Dardanelles Strait into the Mediterranean.

The entanglement in Turkish-controlled waterways, which Turkish authorities say is mainly affecting Europe-bound crude oil shipments, it has come to the attention of UK and US government officials who are now in talks with Ankara to resolve the growing deadlock.

The problem is related to a western price cap on Russian oil that entered into force on Monday. The cap is supposed to limit Kremlin revenue without adding to the strain on the global economy by reducing supply. But Turkey insists that the ships show they have insurance that it will pay out in light of the new sanctions, before allowing them to pass through the straits linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Although it currently does not cause disruptions to global oil supplies and therefore prices, the delay could become a problem if not resolved, said Jorge Leon, Rystad Energy’s senior vice president of oil market analysis. “This is a very popular route around the world for world trade and specifically for crude oil,” he told CNN Business.

Countries like Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan use the Turkish Straits to get their oil to the world oil markets.

The traffic jam in the Turkish Strait arose after this week’s imposition of the ceiling price of Russian oil. The bars of the cap shipowners transporting Russian oil access insurance and other services from European suppliers, unless oil sells for $60 a barrel or less.

In light of the cap, Turkish maritime authorities are concerned on the risk of accidents or oil spills involving uninsured vessels, and they are preventing ships from passing through Turkish waters unless they can provide additional assurances that their transit is covered.

in a warning aired last month by the government of Turkey before the price cap, Maritime Director General Ünal Baylan said that given the “catastrophic consequences” for the country in the event of an accident involving a crude oil tanker, “it is absolutely necessary that we somehow confirm that your [protection and indemnity] insurance coverage remains valid and complete.”

The P&I Clubs International Group, which provides protection and indemnity insurance for 90% of goods shipped by sea, has said it cannot meet with the turkish politics.

The Turkish government’s requirements “go far beyond the general information contained in a normal entry confirmation letter” and would require P&I Clubs to confirm coverage even in the event of non-compliance with sanctions under EU, UK law. UK and the US, the UK P&I Club said in a statement.

Turkish officials say this position is “unacceptable” and on Thursday reiterated the demands for letters from insurers. “Most of the crude tankers waiting to cross the strait are EU ships and most of the gasoline is destined for EU ports,” the Turkish maritime authority said in a statement.

“It is difficult to understand why EU-based insurance companies refuse to provide this letter… for EU-owned ships, transporting crude oil to [the] EU when the sanctions in question have been established by the EU,” he added.

Western officials, clearly concerned about the potential disruption of oil supplies, they say they are in talks with the government of Turkey to resolve the situation.

US Treasury Under Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in a call that the price cap only applies to Russian oil and “does not require additional controls on ships” that They pass through Turkish waters.

“Both officials stressed their shared interest in keeping global energy markets well supplied by creating a simple compliance regime that would allow oil to transit through the Turkey Strait,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

“The UK, US and EU are working closely with the Turkish government and the transport and insurance industries to clarify the implementation of the oil price cap and reach a resolution,” according to a Treasury statement. from United Kingdom.

“There is no reason for ships to be denied access to the Bosphorus Strait for environmental or health and safety reasons,” he added.

Despite the tanker backlog, the average wait time to cross the Bosphorus Strait is still well below last year’s level, according to Rystad Energy’s Leon. “Given the reaction from UK and US officials, my hunch is that this will be resolved very soon,” he said.

-— Gül Tüysüz in Istanbul contributed to this article.

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