Turkey has become a stumbling block to a complex international plan to deprive Russia of wartime oil revenues, as the number of tankers waiting to exit the Black Sea through two Turkish straits continued to rise on Friday.
Ankara has refused to cancel the new insurance check rule that it applied at the beginning of the month, despite being under pressure from Western officials for days.
Shipping agency Tribeca said three tankers were waiting in the Black Sea To cross the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits increased to 28according to Reuters.
The Group of Seven, the European Union and Australia have agreed to prevent shipping providers, such as insurance companies, from helping to export Russian oil unless it is sold according to a price ceiling they set for Russian crude aimed at depriving Moscow of wartime oil revenues.
The Turkish Maritime Authority said it will continue to prevent oil tankers that do not carry the appropriate insurance letters from entering its waters.
Western insurers added that they could not provide the documents requested by Turkey because they could be subject to penalties if it was found that the oil shipments covered by them were sold at prices exceeding the price ceiling.
The Navigation Authority added that in the event of an accident involving a ship in violation of the sanctions, it is possible that a global oil spill fund would not cover the cost of the damages.
“It is unlikely for us to take the risk that the insurance company will not meet its liability for compensation,” it said in a statement, adding that Turkey was continuing talks with other countries and insurance companies.
And it stated that the vast majority of ships waiting near the straits belong to the European Union, and a large amount of oil they carry is heading to the ports of the Union, which arouses the resentment of Ankara’s allies in the West.
The Turkish Navigation Authority stated that Ankara plans to allow eight tankers that do not have protection and compensation insurance documents and are still waiting in the Sea of Marmara to cross the Dardanelles from its waters.
The statement said that these tankers will be escorted until they cross the Dardanelles Strait under additional procedures after the strait is closed to maritime traffic.
A shipping source said that four tankers were scheduled to cross the Dardanelles Strait tomorrow, Saturday, accompanied by boats, after a period of waiting.
The statement said that an oil tanker flying the Turkish flag obtained a protection and compensation insurance letter from an international insurance company affiliated with the International Group of Protection and Compensation Clubs, after Turkey requested for the first time letters of insurance from oil tankers.
According to the statement, the tanker crossed the Bosphorus Strait on Friday.
The congestion of ships is causing increasing difficulties in the oil and tanker markets. Millions of barrels of oil are heading south every day from Russian ports through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits in Turkey to the Mediterranean.
Most of the tankers waiting in the Bosphorus carry oil from Kazakhstan. Last Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the US administration sees no justification for applying the new Turkish measures to these shipments.
She added that Washington saw no reason to believe that Russia was involved in Turkey’s decision to block the ships’ passage.
The European Commission said on Friday that the delays were not linked to the price cap and that Turkey could continue checking insurance documents “exactly as it was previously done”.
A spokesman told Reuters: “We are therefore in contact with the Turkish authorities to obtain clarifications and work to resolve the situation.”
Turkey maintained good relations with both Russia and Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February. Ankara played a key role in securing a UN-backed agreement in July to release grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
But relations between NATO allies Ankara and Washington have been strained at times, with Turkey last month renewing its calls for the United States to stop supporting Syrian Kurdish forces.
Last Thursday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sedqi Ayan and his group of companies, accusing him of facilitating the sale of oil and involvement in money laundering for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.