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10 Sep 2022

Global Witness

German shipping giant Oldendorff sails close to wind on Russian coal

Germ10 September 2022

Part of the EU’s fifth sanctions package against Russia, these restrictive measures were designed to rachet up pressure on the Russian economy and damage Vladimir Putin’s ability to continue waging war on Ukraine. They are far-reaching, in that they apply not only to EU imports, but to any shipment of coal from Russia by an EU person or company to any location.

On August 12, the UK P&I Club, which insures ocean-going cargo ships, issued a circular to its members. Shipowners should know, the club explained, that it was “now the case that the involvement of an EU entity in the carriage of Russian fertilisers and coal or other solid fossil fuels to any destination whatsoever and whether inside or outside the EU would be in breach of EU sanctions”...

In the days leading up to the sanctions deadline and the P&I circular, the giant German shipping company Oldendorff Carriers GmbH & Co. KG moved multiple shipments of coal from the Russian ports of Taman and Ust-Luga. According to financial and commodities data provider Refinitiv and ship tracker Marine Traffic, Oldendorff ships have delivered coal after the sanctions deadline—or vessels carrying coal from Russian ports are still in transit...

...[A]n Oldendorff spokesperson said, “Please rest assured that we are acting in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. We trust you will understand that we cannot discuss business matters with you in any more detail.”

Nevertheless, Oldendorff insures numerous bulk carriers with the UK P&I Club. Its staff surely read the circulars. Yet eight ships from its fleet have now transported a total of 654 kilotonnes of coal from Russia since sanctions kicked in. As of September 1, three of these shipments appeared to have been delivered to destinations including Turkey and Morocco, while the other five were still in transit...

Part of the following timelines

Ukraine: Global outrage over Russian invasion leads to sanctions, demands for businesses to divest

Ukraine: Global outrage over Russian invasion leads to sanctions, demands for businesses to divest

German Oldendorff still ships Russian coal despite EU sanctions, investigation shows; co. didn't respond