Two oil tankers owned and managed by Russia’s largest maritime and freight shipping company, Sovcomflot, which was blacklisted by the United States last week as part of sanctions against Russia, are rerouting from their Canadian destinations, according to tracking data and marine sources.
The tankers are the first Russian-owned oil vessels to change course after Canada this week ratcheted up pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by shutting ports to Russian-owned ships and barring them from Canadian waters.
The Liberia-flagged tanker SCF Neva carrying crude oil changed course from Canada’s Saint John port on Thursday and is now headed to the Caribbean, sources and vessel data show.
The vessel loaded crude oil at Colombia’s Mamonal port in mid-February. After stopping at an oil storage terminal in St Eustatius it was due to continue to the Port of St. John in New Brunswick, Canada, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
A refined products tanker chartered by Suncor, SCF Ussuri, has slowed down on Thursday and is currently floating offshore after rerouting from its Montreal, Canada, destination, according to vessel data and sources.
The vessel loaded at New York on Feb. 24 and was due to arrive in Montreal on March 1.
“It’s incredibly confusing for where these ships go, whether they will be received or not and if ports will accept them,” said Dan Yergin, vice chairman of energy research and consultancy IHS Markit.
Yergin added that as countries impose formal and informal restrictions on Russian vessels, many might be rerouted to Asia.
The Biden administration is considering following Canada in barring Russian ships from U.S. ports, a government official said on Wednesday.
As the SCF Ussuri loaded refined product in the U.S. East Coast, it cannot return to the United States without violating the Jones Act.
Russian-flagged ships represent a very small percentage of U.S. traffic, but barring Russian cargo from the United States would have a dramatically larger impact, the source said. It was not clear if the administration is seriously considering that more drastic step.