The tanker market is expected to remain a “minefield” of sanctions, cargo seizures and pipeline disrruption for the time being. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Gibson said that “disruption to crude exports is nothing new, however recent geopolitical events have highlighted the precariousness of crude exports in some parts of the world, particularly where exports involve transiting another nation. In the past 12 months, disruptions have been observed on the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) and Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipelines, whilst unrest in Sudan threatens flows on the Greater Nile Pipeline”.

According to Gibson, “aside from its own crude production, Russia has the power to stop exports via the CPC pipeline, and some argue that Russia has already taken actions to disrupt CPC exports since the invasion of Ukraine. The terminal was forced to reduce exports to undergo repairs in August last year, whilst loadings were also disrupted in March and April 2022 due to suspected storm damage. Last June, operations were halted due to a search for unexploded ordinance. Despite the interruptions last year, volumes were broadly similar to the 3 year average, with export flows so far in 2023 averaging at record levels. However, for the market there remains a significant risk that Russia could disrupt a major source of oil supply and demand for the Aframax and Suezmax markets, should it wish to do so. Due to the perceived risk, Kazakhstan has explored exporting oil across the Caspian sea to Baku for injection into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, however, so far this has not exceeded 1-2 cargoes per month and is unlikely to expand much further given the logistical challenges and costs involved”.

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