Russia, China Involved in ‘Dark’ Oil Deals as Sanctions Rock Moscow

It has become rather obvious, as we peer into the global community of late, that many of the world’s more authoritarian nations appear to be consolidating their relationships and conglomerating power.

Fears of World War III have been peaking for months now, thanks in no small part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased belligerence of China on the subject of Taiwan.

Now, as the western world continues to push back against these two eastern superpower-wannabes, there is mounting evidence of an illicit, “dark” oil trade being conducted by Moscow and Beijing.

The volume of Russian oil involved in “dark” ship-to-ship transfers has risen sharply in the past few months, as Western sanctions lead to a high degree of secrecy in global crude markets and a redirection of supplies toward Asia.

According to Vortexa, the volume of Russian crude through such transfers reached 182,000 barrels a day in the first 18 days of July, up dramatically from 44,000 barrels a day in June. The commodity data company told Insider that the majority of oil is headed to China.

In ship-to-ship transfer, one ship unloads its cargo while at sea. When such a transfer is “dark”, it means that at least one ship has turned off the tracking signal to help officers see where it is.

Vortex analysts said the ships loaded with the country’s oil from Russia, headed for the Atlantic and then unloading their cargo on other ships.

The data was clear:

According to data from Vortexa, as of Monday there were four very large crude cargo carriers – or VLCCs – currently laden with Russian crude bound for Asia that had picked up their cargo from another ship in the Atlantic.

Lloyd’s List, a magazine for the shipping industry, said this week that five “elderly” Chinese ships have been at the center of recent ship-to-ship transfers of Russian crude across the Atlantic. Commodity data company Kpler told Insider that this dark transfer is also taking place amid a jump in exports to Asia compared to prewar levels.

The news comes as Russia continues to be pummeled by international sanctions, and while China continues to threaten the United States with military action should House Speaker Nancy Pelosi follow through on her plan to visit Taiwan this week.