On 18 December 2023, the EU adopted its 12th sanctions package against Russia. As part of this package, Council Regulation (EU) 2023/2878 (amending Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 (Regulation 833/2014)) introduced restrictions relating to the sale of tankers.

The new measures (a) prohibit the sale of tankers for the transport of crude oil or petroleum products to any natural or legal person, entity, or body in Russia or for use in Russia (unless authorised by an EU Member State competent authority), and (b) introduce a notification requirement for sales of such tankers to third countries. By requiring notification of tanker sales, the EU seeks to improve transparency and oversight around the sale of tankers, acknowledging the potential for tankers to be utilised in circumventing existing restrictions around the transport of Russian crude oil and petroleum products (in particular, the Russia Oil Price Cap measures introduced by the Price Cap Coalition). 

In this update we look at the details of the notification requirement for sales of tankers to third countries, including the requirement to notify the relevant authorities of transactions that have taken place between 5 December 2022 and 19 December 2023.

The following are the specific requirements and timelines for reporting transactions related to tanker sales:

  1. Persons covered: the notification requirement applies to (a) nationals of an EU Member State (b) natural persons residing in an EU Member State or (c) legal persons, entities, or bodies established in the EU.
  2. Transactions affected: the notification requirement applies to any sale or other arrangement entailing a transfer of ownership by a person listed in (1) above, to any third country of a tanker for the transport of crude oil or petroleum products listed in Annex XXV of Regulation 833/2014 where the tanker falls under HS code ex 8901 20.
  3. Reporting period: the seller is required to immediately notify the competent authority of the relevant EU Member State. Significantly, the notification requirement applies retrospectively such that any sale concluded between 5 December 2022 and 19 December 2023 must be notified to the competent authority before 20 February 2024.
  4. Reportable information: at a minimum, this includes the identities of the seller and the purchaser, incorporation documents of the seller and the purchaser, and the tanker’s IMO and Call Sign. 
  5. Competent authority reporting: the EU Member State concerned is obligated to inform the other EU Member States and the EU Commission of any authorisation granted and any notification within two weeks of the authorisation or notification. For example, as the Competent Authority for Malta, the Sanctions Monitoring Board Malta has published an application derogation template and notification form template for legal entities and natural persons subject to Maltese jurisdiction. 

Impact on the maritime sector

These measures represent a significant step in the EU’s attempts to tackle circumvention of sanctions targeting Russia. The EU Commission has stated that the information provided will help it gather more information on the ‘shadow fleet' currently used by Russia to circumvent the Price Cap and bring more transparency to this market. The measures are a further sign of the EU’s continued focus on the maritime sector and its willingness to proactively monitor the sector to enforce sanctions compliance and tackle circumvention. While the notification obligation directly impacts the owners of tankers, financial institutions and insurers should also consider its impact on their contractual arrangements with owners subject to this new requirement. 

If you would like to discuss the impact of these measures, we are available to assist.

Co-authored by Gregory McManus (Trainee, London). 


Senior Associate

Recent publications

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest legal news, information and events . . .