2nd Russian crude oil tanker with 1 million barrels head for Ghana’s Tema port

A second Russian crude oil tanker is heading to the port of Tema, Ghana. The Suezmax tanker Nissos Tinos left the Arctic port of Murmansk on Wednesday, August 9 with a cargo of about 1 million barrels of Russian crude oil. 

The cargo is due to arrive at the west African port later this month, according to tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. It is owned by Kyklades Maritime Corp., based in Piraeus, Greece.

The first tanker, Theseus loaded with 600,000 barrels of Russian crude oil, left the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk in late January and arrived in Ghanaian waters off the Gulf of Guinea on February 24. The raw materials were delivered to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), located 24 km from Ghana’s capital of Accra, but offloaded in April, after being held up because of national security considerations.

European-owned tankers are permitted to carry Russian crude as long as it was purchased at a price below $60 a barrel under a price cap mechanism introduced by the Group of Seven nations in December. Ship owners and insurers are covered as long as they have an attestation from the buyer of the cargo that the price paid was below the cap.

The pool of buyers for Russian crude has shrunk dramatically since Moscow’s troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Import bans were imposed by the US, UK, Canada, Australia and members of the European Union. That’s left Russia hugely reliant on just two buyers — more than 80% of its seaborne crude shipments now end up in India or China.

Exporters are hunting for new markets. It’s unclear where the cargo of the Nissos Tinos will end up once it arrives in Ghana.

In February, while the tanker Theseus was hauling the first Russian barrels to Tema, the chief executive officer of Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority said the shipment would be blocked if it was bound for the country.

The cargo was held up for six weeks before eventually being offloaded into storage tanks at the Tema Oil Refinery. The plant, Ghana’s only major crude processor, has been shut for about two years, although the government had been given assurances it would resume operations this year. 

The Accra-based Institute for Energy Security called on Ghana’s government to explain how a cargo of Russian oil came to be in the nation’s territorial waters, and it identified Platon Gas Oil Ghana Ltd. as the purchaser of the first cargo. The company, which operates a small plant adjacent to the Tema refinery, leased storage tanks at its larger neighbor, IES Executive Director Nana Amoasi VII previously said in an interview with Ghana’s Citi Newsroom.

It would take Platon at least six months to process the crude, he said.

A new refinery, built by the Sentuo Group as part of China’s Belt and Road Development Strategy, is due to begin processing this month. The Ghanaian Times reports that the plant is seeking 500,000 barrels of local crude for its first production.

The refinery will be able to process about 40,000 barrels a day during its first phase of operation, increasing that amount to 100,000 barrels a day once a second construction phase is completed in January 2024, the company says on its website.

Source: Financial Times

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