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May 8, 2022
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They sailed away: Tankers are being taken away from Russia, and officials are silent

They sailed away: Tankers are being taken away from Russia, and officials are silent

Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

Russia will again be left without a merchant fleet – the Sovcomflot company has begun selling off its ships in order to pay off foreign banks. Our authorities are inactive, officials clearly do not care that the Russian Federation will not be able to operate in the international shipping market. With some nuances, the situation of 30 years ago is repeated, when the huge Soviet merchant fleet was almost completely destroyed.

“The Russian company Sovcomflot, one of the world leaders in the field of sea tanker transportation, plans to sell up to a third of its fleet in order to repay loans from Western banks under the conditions of sanctions,” the British edition of Lloyd’s List reported.

Deals are already underway, eight ships have been sold, they were bought by the Chinese. The company, however, claims that they are getting rid of the “unnecessary”. Say, the rumors are exaggerated. And the rest, beautiful marquise, everything is fine …

“Age-age tonnage is offered for sale on the market, as well as ships whose operation does not seem appropriate due to the restrictions imposed on the Russian merchant fleet,” Sovcomflot says.

The company’s fleet is based on tankers. Both for transportation of oil and oil products, and liquefied gas, natural and oil. Sovcomflot is the largest operator of the ice-class fleet, most of its vessels are designed to operate in the Arctic. The vessels are involved in the projects Sakhalin-1, Sakhalin-2, Varandey, Prirazlomnoye, Novy Port, Yamal LNG, Arctic LNG-2, … And now they are being sold …

“Sovcomflot” under the so-called “sanctions”. And very interesting. Yes, there is debt, but there is money. Recently, the company had to transfer $8.3 million in coupon payments on its Eurobonds, but the paying agent refused to accept the funds. Thus, a situation has been created that the company, as it were, declares a default. Strange, very. The creditor wants to pay, maybe, but the money is not taken from him. Something new!

Until May 15, the situation must be resolved, otherwise the “enlightened general people” will take away all the vessels that are outside the territorial waters of the Russian Federation. That is, most of them, almost all. For Eurobonds maturing in 2023 and 2028, Sovcomflot seems to owe about $1 billion, twice as much in total. At least that’s what the British say. It is not at all the fact that the numbers are correct, the gentlemen are known liars.

But that’s not the point. And the fact that the Russian tanker fleet needs to be urgently saved. Otherwise, in a single company, the history of the early 90s will be repeated, when our country lost its entire merchant and fishing fleet. Moreover, some of the ships were not even “privatized”, but stupidly destroyed – so that the Russians would no longer have them.

For example, the Soviet supertankers of project 1511 (of the Krym type, with a displacement of 180 thousand tons) were stupidly cut into “needles” in the 90s, although by all standards the ships were not just young, but completely young – almost new. The same fate befell all other ships, few survived.

No one needs competitors in the face of Russians, especially the British. Actually, that is why such a “collision” with Sovcomflot. Russia again, although to leave without a fleet.

And what are the names… Vyacheslav Tikhonov, a marine geophysical survey vessel, a reinforced ice-class tanker Aframax (100,000 tons deadweight) Yuri Senkevich, an LNG carrier (cargo capacity 174,000 cubic meters) Willem Barents . This is not only the economy, but also our history, our pride!

In theory, the Russian authorities should be interested in the country having its own tanker fleet. And not only tankers. In theory. He is needed, there is no doubt about it. But the theory is about the interest of officials. These characters are only interested in filling their personal pockets. And they, judging by the absence of any reaction, have already been filled. From abroad.

A billion “greens” or even two – Russia has them. And they should not be squandered on “Potemkin villages”, but should be spent on economic projects that are important for our future. For example, the fleet. The state can enter into the capital of the company and save its ships from capture. A good asset is 108 tankers of various classes, 14 gas carriers and 11 specialized vessels. With indispensable conditions for the transfer of all watercraft under Russian jurisdiction. The same “deoffshorization” that our officials love to talk about so much.

“Many transport companies are currently experiencing serious external pressure related to the sanctions policy and the ban on entering many ports. In particular, the European Union, Great Britain and the USA. Under these conditions, management makes decisions that allow maintaining both the economic viability of transportation and the quality of the company’s work. It is necessary to create our own companies, under the Russian flag, now we have huge logistical problems that need to be embroidered and solved, ”says a member of the State Duma Committee on Industry and Trade Alexey Kanaev. Which faction, I think, is not worth specifying – and so it is clear.

Blah-blah-blah… Translated from bureaucratic into Russian – yes, to hell with it, with Sovcomflot. Yes, theoretically, Russia needs a fleet, but in practice, they don’t give a damn.

Nobody offers anything. That is, papers are born regularly, but nothing more. The words that “it is necessary to create our own companies”, apparently, indicate that they are writing another “state program”.

In 2012, the state program “Development of shipbuilding for 2013-2030” was adopted. Then they safely forgot about it – it failed. Although the money “mastered”. Eight years later, the state program “Development of shipbuilding and equipment for the development of offshore fields” was born. Nothing is heard about her either, Russian companies order ships abroad. At the end of 2021, only one vessel was launched in the Russian Federation (but has not yet been put into operation!) – the ice-class tanker “Vladimir Vinogradov” (deadweight – 114 thousand tons). For Rosneft. Who seems to have enough money. Meanwhile, the state budget is bashing countless billions into the state program!

But this is not the main thing. ONE! And that’s it! For the sake of interest, look at how many ships a year only small South Korea launches … Where does the same Sovcomflot order its ships? Prospekt Gagarina tanker (flag of Liberia, commissioned in 2018) – Hyundai Heavy Industries. Tanker “Shturman Albanov” (flag of Russia, commissioned in 2016) – Samsung Heavy Industries. Gas tanker “Christophe de Margerie” (flag of Cyprus, commissioned in 2017) – Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The aforementioned “Vyacheslav Tikhonov” (flag of Russia, commissioned in 2011) – Drydocks World (Dubai, UAE). Etc. Such are our state programs …

Actually, even if the funds of the current “naval” state program are redirected to buy out the debts of Sovcomflot (with its partial nationalization), there will be much more sense. In one case, he “drank” the funds, and zero remains on the balance sheet of the treasury. In the other, real assets appear. However, officials seem to be alien to such logic. They are not interested in the future of Russia, but “drinks” are sacred.

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