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Investigation: UAE companies are marketing Russian oil to escape European sanctions

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An investigation published by the International Energy Intelligence website revealed that UAE-based companies are marketing Russia’s oil to escape European and international sanctions against Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

The website said that Russian oil companies rely more on little-known trading companies in the UAE to market their crude oil as European Union sanctions force traditional players such as Vitol, Trafigura and Glencore to exit the market.

According to the site, many new names have appeared on shipping lists in recent weeks as cranes for Russian crude, and it appears that some of them have only recently been incorporated into the UAE.

Trade sources say one of the attractions in Dubai and other emirates for Russian oil exporters is the UAE’s lack of interest in imposing trade sanctions and low taxes.

“Nobody pays much attention to us. We keep working. This is not Geneva,” said a Russian trader in Dubai, referring to Switzerland’s crackdown on Russia’s oil trade since the war with Ukraine began on February 24.

One of the newcomers is a mysterious entity called Tejarinaft FZCO, which appears to be registered in the UAE and whose name in Arabic translates to “oil trading.”

According to port data, Tejarinaft delivered two shipments of Ural crude last month to Turkey and one shipment in June, each sourced from Russian state giant Rosneft.

Tejarinaft has also emerged as a regular seller of Russian fuel oil and gas oil from ports on the Baltic and Black Seas, with Rosneft again.

There is no official record of Tejarinaft in business records in the UAE or any other databases, and more than six oil traders based in Dubai said they had never heard of the company.

Everest Energy is a familiar UAE-based trading company and marketing of Russian barrels, which delivered a cargo of Ural crude to the Turkish port of Tutuncevlik last month.

According to trade sources, Everest is also a regular supplier of petroleum products from the Black Sea ports.

Everest was registered with the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) in 2018 and trades in other commodities.

“We maintain flexibility, transparency and focus that allows us to build reliable and long-term relationships with our partners,” the company says on its website.

Coral Energy, another DMCC-based trading company, owned by an Azerbaijani national, remains a regular purveyor of Russian crude and products. Turkey also supplies crude oil.

GMS Trading Middle East, another member of the DMCC club, has emerged as a product marketing company in the Black Sea. This company was founded only in May.

UAE-based companies are not subject to any Russian trade sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and Switzerland in recent months.

The sanctions prohibit business transactions with Rosneft, shipping company Sovcomflot and other government-controlled entities.

But due to financial sanctions targeting transactions in dollars and euros, they have to buy oil in other currencies, including the UAE dirham and the Russian ruble.

A second Russian trader says: “It is impossible to escape from the sanctions, they make life more difficult for everyone, and the UAE is the possible alternative.”