St Kitts & Nevis Deflags 36 Tankers Owned by Biggest Dark Fleet Owner
Gatik Ship Management tonnage comprised two thirds of ships flagged in the UK-based registry --by Michelle Wiese Bockmann
This month, 18⁰ North kicked off a series of reports you won't see anywhere else on fuel from Russia being delivered to Jamaica amid sanctions by Western nations.
We've also recently become aware of vessels sailing under the flags of the Caribbean that have moved energy products from Russia to elsewhere since that country's war broke out against Ukraine last year.
With this in mind, today we’re bringing you an article about the company operating the St. Kitts & Nevis registry deflagging some of these vessels. It was originally published in April and comes to you courtesy of Lloyd’s List Intelligence, a maritime data and analytics company, that has given us permission to republish it.
18⁰ North's original reporting on the topic of Russian fuel imports will continue in the weeks and months ahead.
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THE registry of St Kitts and Nevis is deregistering all tankers flagged with Gatik Ship Management, after a confidential review into the biggest dark fleet shipowner that is key to Russian export oil trades.
The UK-incorporated registry flagged at least 36 tankers owned by Gatik, the mysterious Dubai-based shipowner at the forefront of shipping Russian crude and refined products that has built up a 50-tanker fleet worth $1.5bn from scratch in less than 18 months.
But in legal correspondence cited by Lloyd’s List, the Saint Christopher and Nevis International Ship Registry said it was deregistering all Gatik vessels, without providing the number involved.
The registry flagged 71% of the Gatik fleet of 50 tankers, when measured by deadweight, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data. Gabon flagged a further 11 tankers, Liberia one and Palau 2, according to databases including Equasis.
The Gatik vessels comprised two thirds of all tonnage in the registry when measured by deadweight. Most of the other 600 vessels are smaller tugs, fishing vessels or ships under 5,000 dwt.
The results of an internal investigation would remain confidential, the letter said, and that the registry undertook its legal and ethical responsibilities very seriously.
Gatik Ship Management is the largest shipowner shipping Russian oil and refined products, and one of the 450- plus tankers defined as part of the dark fleet* of tankers solely deployed in shipping Russian, Venezuelan and Iranian oil which is subject to a range of Western and US sanctions.
Under sanctions imposed by the Group of Seven industrialised nations and Australia, shipowners, charterers, insurers and other marine service providers linked to Western countries cannot ship Russian oil to third countries unless it is sold at or below a price cap.
The price cap, which applied for crude shipments from December 5, and refined products since February 5, is designed to limit revenues flowing to the Russian federation and is accompanied by oil import bans to Europe, the UK, US, Canada, Australia and other Western economies.
The Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis has outsourced registry management to the UK-based company, which was incorporated in 2004, and has been the flag registry of choice for Gatik.
The UK-based registry had faced widespread scrutiny for its registration of the Gatik ships, for which a beneficial owner cannot be traced.
The company’s website, managed via a GoDaddy domain provider has been “under construction for least six months”.
Technical and commercial management is linked to further anonymous companies in Dubai and India with addresses that do not have any businesses related to their activities. Gatik also uses the Marshall Islands to register ownership for the single-ship companies, which then provide addresses in Dubai and India, further adding to its obfuscated corporate structure to prevent ownership discovery.
The decision by St Kitts & Nevis to deflag the vessels will not be immediate as providers have to provide notice to allow shipowners to find alternative jurisdictions for their vessels.
Data analytics provider VesselsValue estimated Gatik’s fleet at 53 tankers worth $1.5bn in report on April 2.
* Lloyd’s List defines a tanker as part of the dark fleet if it is aged 15 years or over, anonymously owned and/or has a corporate structure designed to obfuscate beneficial ownership discovery, solely deployed in sanctioned oil trades, and engaged in one or more of the deceptive shipping practices outlined by US State Department guidance issued in May 2020. The figures exclude tankers tracked to government-controlled shipping entities such as Russia’s Sovcomflot, or Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Co, and those already sanctioned. Download our explainer on the different risk profiles of the dark fleet here.