A tanker carrying 300,000 barrels of diesel from a Russian port was diverted to Cuba on Friday after dropping anchor off Colombian waters, ship tracking data shows.
Western sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have restricted the market for its oil. But Cuba has increased imports from Venezuela, Russia and other countries this year to cover a fuel shortfall made worse by a deadly fire at its main oil terminal last month.
The Liberian-flagged Transsib Bridge ship loaded in the Russian port of Nakhodka in Russia’s far east and entered the Colombian mooring area of Cartagena on Friday, but did not unload there, according to the data from Refinitiv Eikon. Reuters was unable to determine whether the tanker transferred any of its cargo to another vessel at the Cartagena anchorage.
The tanker had flagged Cartagena as its intended destination after passing the Panama Canal. He then changed course and revised his destination to the Cuban terminal at Matanzas.
Newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro restored diplomatic relations with neighboring Venezuela and announced reforms in the oil industry.
The country’s energy ministry told Reuters on Thursday that there were no restrictions on the origin of shipments arriving in the country. “Any restrictions would relate to the quality of the fuel and the authorized importer,” a spokesperson said.
However, Ecopetrol, Colombia’s largest state-controlled fuel importer, said it was not the buyer of the diesel and was banning oil shipments from Russia.
Cuba’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The vessel has been managed by Sun Ship Management since April, according to maritime database Equasis. Sun SM, formerly called SCF Management Services, is a unit of Russia’s Sovcomflot, according to the parent company’s website. Sovcomflot is under US, UK and Canadian sanctions and has lost fleet insurance from Western companies.
Diesel consumption in Latin America has returned to pre-pandemic levels, increasing the need for imports. Some countries, including Brazil and Cuba, continued to import Russian oil and fuel after Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine “a special military operation”.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar and Marianna Parraga in Houston, and Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota; Editing by Josie Kao)