The tankers lifting Russian oil have got considerably older, Poten & Partners has found.

The shipbroker said in its weekly tanker note that 28% of vessels lifting Russian crude were 15 years old or older in January 2022, a figure that nearly doubled to 50% by December.

“After the invasion and in particular since sanctions were applied to Russian crude oil exports, a growing contingent of owners has declined to engage in moving Russian oil. Many of these owners are publicly traded companies which tend to have more modern vessels,” it said.

“The result of this trend has been an ‘ageing’ of the tanker fleet calling on Russian ports.”

In January 2022, 40% of the aframaxes calling on Russian pots were 10 years old or younger, in addition to the 28% that were 15 years old or older. No vessels of 20 years or older were used.

By December, Poten said 22% were 10 years or younger and 50% were 15 years or older.

“Several voyages were performed on vessels older than 20 years and one aframax employed was even older than 25 years,” it said.

Self-sanctioning by many owners in the aftermath of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions, oil embargo and price cap forced Moscow to turn to less scrupulous shipowners to move its oil.

The “dark fleet” typically employs older ships and can use smaller flag registries and companies outside the International Association of Classification Societies.

Poten previously warned that Russia’s use of the dark fleet could lead to environmental catastrophe as the vessels are often poorly maintained, with owners looking to wring as much profit out of the ships as possible.

Shipbroker BRS Group issued a similar warning this week, pointing out that insurance claims might be difficult to process because many of the ships are not using mainstream insurers.

Rystad Energy said on Wednesday that Russia has enough willing owners to move oil from its western ports, primarily to Asia.

The consultancy said just 30% of tankers carrying Russian oil were using shipbrokers, insurers and other service providers from the global West, down from 60% over the summer.