Economics/Class Relations

Maritime Insurance, Russia, and the Ukraine War

by Peter Zeihan on May 5, 2022

Europe is moving rapidly toward enacting an embargo against Russian crude oil. One of the main enforcement mechanisms will likely be denying maritime insurance coverage to ships carrying Russian crude to European ports.

We’ve already seen many ship captains and crews avoiding loading at Russia’s Black Sea oil terminals out of a fear for their own physical safety–the Iran/Iraq war provides a good historical analogue for the risks to tanker ships in an active war zone. But Russia’s Baltic and Pacific ports aren’t seeing a lot of activity either, as many global buyers are looking to stay on the right side of a quickly evolving sanctions regime.

Which brings us back to the world of maritime insurance. Some 95% of global insurance and reinsurance markets are dominated by European players. Would-be buyers of Russian crude who could leverage sovereign indemnification of Russian cargoes–China and Turkey, potentially India–must now weigh the worth of crude discounts against falling afoul of the Europeans and access to their markets.

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