Ankara refuses to let ships carrying oil pass through its waters in the Black Sea if they are unable to prove that they have taken out particularly expensive insurance, assures “Middle East Eye”. The risk: further destabilize the energy market.

“No sign of appeasement” in the battle between Turkish authorities and insurers. At least 28 ships carrying between 15 and 25 million barrels of oil were still stuck in the Black Sea on December 9, reports reporter Sean Mathews in Middle East Eye. This congestion, “which risks increasing the instability of the global energy market”, is linked to a new Turkish regulation, put in place in the wake of Western measures on Russian oil.

Oil tankers wishing to use the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits must provide documents proving that they have a specific and extremely expensive type of insurance, which most Western insurers refuse. “We are at an impasse, there is no doubt about it,” Neil Roberts, of the British insurance market Lloyd’s Market Association, told the Pan-Arab news site. Turks ask for guarantees that insurers simply cannot give them.”

Black Sea : A filter favorable to Russian boats

For Turkey, the verification of insurance must make it possible to avoid the passage of “ghost ships”, transporting hydrocarbons without complying with the cap on world prices for Russian oil. The measure, decided in early December by the G7 countries, the European Union and Australia, effectively prohibits Western companies from insuring ships carrying oil sold at more than 60 dollars a barrel.

But in fact, the majority of boats able to prove that they are insured “are those with Russian insurance, the latter being inclined to provide the documents requested by Ankara”.

For Western countries, the situation is particularly “frustrating”, assures Middle East Eye. Especially since “the majority of the boats blocked by Turkey in the Black Sea transport oil from Kazakhstan, where companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Total participate in operations on site”. However, Kazakh oil is not affected by Western sanctions.

Based in London, the media ensures that “this impasse highlights the decisive role of Turkey in the Ukrainian file”. If the United States refuses to see the influence of Moscow behind the affair of the stranded oil tankers, Ankara has appeared for several months as the rebellious child of the Atlantic Alliance. The Turkish government notably blocks the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO to “advance its own foreign policy objectives”.


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