(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) On Friday, 23 June 2023, the 11th package of EU sanctions against Russia, was published in the Official Journal and entered into force on Saturday, 24 June 2023. The European Commission formally adopted June 23 its latest sanctions package against Russia which includes measures to clamp down on offshore tanker transfers of Russian oil and a ban on Russian crude flows via the northern branch of the Druzhba pipeline.
The latest amendment to Regulation 833/2014 seeks to strengthen the application of existing sanctions and prevent the circumvention of EU restrictive measures, in particular as regards the implementation of the price cap on Russian oil products. For ease of reference, the latest consolidated version of Regulation 833/2014, dating April 2023, can be found here. The updated list of companies and persons subject to travel ban and asset freeze can be found here.
The amendment introduces the following measures:
New article 3eb – port ban in case of ship-to-ship transfers
- From 24 July 2023, Members States cannot provide access to ports and locks in the territory of the Union, to “vessel performing ship-to-ship transfers, at any point of the voyage to a Member State’s ports or locks, if the competent authority has reasonable cause to suspect that the vessel is in breach of the prohibitions set out in Article 3m(1) and (2) (Nb: import ban into the EU) and Article 3n(1) and (4)” (Nb: oil price cap).
- Access shall also not be granted to ships that have failed to notify the competent authority “at least 48 hours in advance about a ship-to-ship transfer occurring within the Exclusive Economic Zone of a Member State or within 12 nautical miles from the baseline of that Member State’s coast.”
New article 3ec – port ban in case of AIS tampering
- Access to ports and locks of a Member State shall also be prohibited to “any vessel which the competent authority has reasonable cause to suspect of illegally interfering with, switching off or otherwise disabling its shipborne automatic identification system at any point of the voyage to a Member State’s ports or locks, in breach of SOLAS Regulation V/19, point 2.4, when transporting crude oil or petroleum products subject to the prohibitions set out in Article 3m(1) and (2) and Article 3n(1) and (4)”.
Decisions on port access restrictions should be based on risk analysis, taking into account factors such as compliance by a vessel with any pre-notification requirements of ship-to-ship transfers and other relevant legal obligations, or notification of transport of dangerous goods or polluting goods, namely crude oil and petroleum products. The Commission is also expected to publish notices of behaviour at risk of maritime sanctions in order to support the risk analysis process by Member States.
Additionally, Member States will be obliged to notify other Member States and the Commission of any cases when a ship is refused entry. The Commission, with the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), will support the competent authorities through the monitoring and notification of suspicious activities and by facilitating the exchange of information based on the Union Maritime Information and Exchange System (‘SafeSeaNet’).
According to Recital 36, prohibitions relating to port access apply to any vessel, whether it is moored at a port or at anchorage within the jurisdiction of a port of a Member State (in the case of the Gulf of Finland, this includes all territorial waters and internal waters). Derogations to port access restrictions continue to apply in the event of maritime safety or humanitarian reasons.