Finland announced the threat of an ecological disaster due to Russian “tank pensioners”
Finland began to fear that Russia’s use of a fleet of old, badly insured tankers to circumvent Western sanctions on oil exports could lead to an ecological disaster in the Baltic Sea.
Finnish officials told the Washington Post that in December, after more restrictions went into effect, old oil tankers that had not previously passed this route began to appear in the Gulf of Finland leading to St. Petersburg. The composition of the courts has changed, less and less willing to cooperate with Russia due to sanctions and reputational threats. Now “retired tankers” are now sailing through what should be a scrap heap in the Baltic Sea, with crews poorly familiar with the specifics of this waterway.
According to the publication’s interlocutors, such tankers are most often not insured. This increases the likelihood that in the event of an oil spill or collision they will run out of resources to organize a rescue operation.
Fearing such incidents, the Finnish authorities decided to intensify drills and drills in response to oil spills and other environmental disasters, said the deputy head of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District Mikko Hirvey. Necessary life-saving equipment was also assembled, including floating booms to contain spills and vessels capable of collecting oil that had fallen into the sea.
While no environmental incidents have been reported, even a minor problem could be catastrophic in the Gulf of Finland, whose shallow depth and fjord-like shoreline make cleanup extremely difficult, Hirvey said. “There is a potential risk and it is higher than before. When we see new ships that haven’t worked here before, we really don’t know how competent the crew is in ice navigation skills,” he explained.
In December, Reuters wrote about the boom in the market for old tankers. gRiverine and the Norwegian owners sold them at record high prices to Middle Eastern and Asian buyers who took advantage of skyrocketing charter prices for ships ready to ship Russian oil to India and China.
Large Western companies usually stop using tankers older than 15 years, most of which are then scrapped. Meanwhile, the ships of the current fleet used by Russia are 13 to 20 years old.