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G7 sanctions complicate passage of Russian tankers through the Bosphorus

The G7, plus Australia, will not allow its members to buy Russian oil exported by sea above $60 a barrel
REUTERS/VASILY FEDOSENKO  -   Plataforma de perforación en el campo petrolífero de Yarakta, propiedad de la Compañía Petrolera de Irkutsk (INK), en la región de Irkutsk (Rusia)

REUTERS/VASILY FEDOSENKO -  -   Drilling rig at the Yarakta oil field owned by Irkutsk Oil Company (INK) in Russia's Irkutsk region

Following the entry into force of the price ceiling for Russian oil, oil tankers have been jammed on the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, due to the refusal of international insurers to issue insurance certificates, reports the Turkish press.

According to the daily "Millyet", the Turkish authorities have been insisting for several days that these documents be presented. As a result, a long queue of tankers carrying Russian crude has formed, waiting to pass through the strait that divides the city from Istanbul.

The G7 countries decided last week to set a price ceiling of $60 a barrel for Russian crude, including a veto on securing cargoes at selling prices above that limit.

Turkish officials told the official Anadolu news agency that Turkey has been systematically requesting insurance certificates from tankers since 1 December, even though this obligation has existed since 2002. But the control has been intensified because of fears that the insurance issued will no longer be valid because of the sanctions and that no one will be held responsible for the possibly astronomical costs in the event of a hypothetical accident in the Bosphorus.

This waterway, which runs through the heart of a city of 16 million inhabitants, is among the most dangerous in the world because of its narrow width of up to 700 metres and strong currents.

The sources quoted by Anadolu qualify that this measure has so far not significantly affected the number of tankers waiting to cross the Bosphorus. Due to passage regulations, it is common for dozens of ships to wait in the Black Sea before passing through the strait, they say.

The decision by the G7 plus Australia not to allow its members to buy Russian oil exported by sea above $60 per barrel came into force on Monday. The agreement provides for a 45-day transition period, during which tankers that have taken on crude oil cargoes before 5 December and plan to unload before 19 January 2023 can legally operate.