Laden crude oil tanker underway along vessels anchored on outer anchorage in Singapore Strait.

United Arab Emirates and Russia have the highest number of registered owners of “shadow” tankers, according to a new report.

Research by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) found that of the 150 “shadow” tankers transporting Russian crude oil operating currently, 41% are registered in the UAE, while India makes up 12%, and Vietnam, Hong Kong and China make up 8% each. 16% of the “shadow” tankers transporting Russian crude oil are registered in other countries.

“Shadow” tankers carrying crude oil and oil products are registered in different countries, with very little overlap.

The ownership mix of “shadow” tankers has not changed significantly since sanctions were implemented, with Russia’s share of owned oil product and chemical tankers dropping from 59% in 2022 to 57% in 2023.

The report published on Monday estimates the share of “shadow” tankers that shipped Russian oil products and chemicals by country ownership. In its figures CREA shows that in 2023, 57% of “shadow” tankers were registered in Russia, while 14% were registered in the UAE.

But who are the buyer of Russia´s crude oil carried on “shadow” tankers?

The analysis of CREA suggests that India, China emerge as biggest buyers of Russia’s crude oil carried on “shadow” tankers.

Due to sanctions, Russian oil companies have sought out alternative export markets.

An earlier study conducted by CREA revealed that Russian crude oil has found new outlets, including countries such as China, India, Turkey, Singapore, and the UAE. These countries have increased their imports of Russian oil partially for domestic consumption and partially to increase exports of oil products that are refined from Russian crude oil. This analysis finds that around 69% of the crude oil volume moved by “shadow” tankers, finds its way to China and India.

Since the imposition of sanctions on Russian crude oil, China and India have risen as the primary points of delivery for “shadow” tankers, as CREA highlights. Notably, China accounts for approximately 37% of all crude oil carried by “shadow” tankers from Russia, closely trailed by India at 32%.

“Countries such as India that did not implement sanctions against Russia have reaped advantages from the decline in Russian crude oil prices which dropped after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fell further after sanctions were imposed,” said CREA.

In its report, Shedding Light on Shadow Tankers, says that discounts on Russian crude oil prices compared to benchmark Brent have prompted these countries to significantly increase their imports of oil from Russia, as they were forced to offer these discounts in order to find buyers of their oil.

However, in accordance with the analysis, these discounts offered to Indian buyers of Russian crude have been falling in recent months.