(Bloomberg) -- A Russian oil tanker sanctioned by Washington is still floating about 1,600 miles from the Indian port where it was due to unload as New Delhi grapples with a dilemma over whether to let the vessel dock.
The longer it drifts — and the vessel has now been stuck in its current location for about 10 days — the more it underscores the challenge that India faces as it seeks to import cheap Russian crude, and at the same time avoid the risk of damaging ties with the US.
Any sign that the US can impede Russia’s capacity to deliver its own oil would concern the Kremlin, which has amassed a large fleet of vessels to work around Group of Seven sanctions following the war in Ukraine.
The NS Century, a Liberia-flagged Aframax owned by Sovcomflot, started its journey from South Korea’s Yeosu in late October, according to ship-tracking data. Cargoes of Sokol, which loads from the eastern Russian port of De-Kastri, have often undergone ship-to-ship transfers off Yeosu.
Before it stopped, the vessel was heading to the Indian port of Vadinar, where state-owned refiner Indian Oil Corp. has a mooring facility and Nayara Energy, which counts Rosneft as its single largest shareholder, has a refinery.
An external public relations officer speaking on behalf of Nayara Energy said the cargo didn’t belong to the refiner. A Nayara spokesman did not comment, while Indian Oil didn’t immediately comment on the cargo or the delivery. India’s Directorate General of Shipping said last week it was awaiting instructions from the government as to whether the ship would be allowed to unload its cargo.
The US recently sanctioned five vessels for using Western services for the transport of oil that cost more than $60 a barrel, a price cap imposed by the Group of Seven nations. The ships include NS Century.
--With assistance from Sudhi Ranjan Sen.
(Adds Nayara detail in paragraph 6)
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