Tanker owners are already having problems covering some voyages days after the European Union said it would ban the insurance of vessels carrying Russian crude.

Paris-based shipbroker Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) reported “significant issues” for owners as the sanctions package begins to bite.

The EU also said it was halting the import of 90% of Russian oil by the end of the year.

The insurance sanctions are intended to prevent Moscow from finding alternative markets.

The move is widely expected to be followed by the UK, a major provider of insurance to the tanker industry.

BRS said a UK insurance ban will not completely “choke off” Russian exports as there remain alternative, albeit smaller, insurance markets available — notably in China and Russia.

And the French broker believes state insurance remains an option as well.

This will discourage mainstream tanker owners from lifting cargoes, but it will probably not deter what BRS diplomatically calls “niche” tanker owners whose vessels are already involved in the transport of illicit Iranian and Venezuelan oil.

“Since the sanctions package was finalised, we are already hearing of significant insurance issues,” BRS said. “Western companies are reluctant to insure voyages passing via the Black Sea.”

Meanwhile, due to the restrictions placed on the Russian banking sector, companies are reluctant to insure tankers loading from the CPC terminal close to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

Compensation problem

BRS said that, although CPC blend is composed of 90% Kazakhstani crude and thus not embargoed, if there was an accident at the terminal, it would be difficult to compensate Russian entities without falling foul of sanctions.

It has been reported that the Russian state is preparing to step in and beat EU sanctions by providing its own insurance guarantees to allow tankers to trade its oil around the world.

In comments made to social media outlet Telegraph, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, admitted the EU ban would “complicate shipments to third countries”.

But the former president and prime minister hinted that a solution is already in place.

“The issue of supply insurance can be closed at the expense of state guarantees within the framework of interstate agreements with third countries. The problem can be solved,” Medvedev said.