SPURENSUCHE: Russische Öl-Tanker vor griechischer Küste - was passiert dort? I frontal
tanker sightings have led us to Greece. For months,
tankers have been showing up in unknown areas and behaving erratically. "At first we could only see it on the monitor. And you can already see all these orange dots. And if you look closer, there's not just one
tanker behind one dot, but sometimes two
tankers, like here." The suspicion: Russian oil is being reloaded offshore here. To circumvent sanctions and thus further fill Putin's war chest. "Has it increased? I mean more ship-to-ship transfers." "Yes, more. Russian
tankers, all Russian." We are looking for explanations. Strange things are happening on the southern tip of the European continent.
Coastal residents have been sighting Russian
tankers in the Lakonia Gulf since spring. Fischer reported that there had never been anything like it before. They can only guess what the
tankers want in their fishing ground. "There were three
tankers. 17, 18 miles exchanging gas, oil or whatever. They gave or took." A hotel not far from the port city of Gythios. The owner tells us about oil
tankers very close to the coast and shows us photos. The hotel operator fears that a
tanker accident could destroy his existence. "This is a danger to nature, the sea and the livelihood of the people in this area, and that is tourism." The observations of a conservationist pose even more puzzles.
He claims to have seen oil
tankers on the horizon, drifting in pairs, side by side in the open sea. However, his inquiries to the port police were unsuccessful. "If any ship wants to come in, here in the port, yes, then they check it. But only then. If it's outside, then look the other way..." The mysterious
tanker sightings also led us to Greece. Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU has been trying to stop Putin from continuing to sell oil to fill his war chest. Therefore, Brussels had decided on sanctions, which, however, allowed some exceptions. Starting in December, these gaps will be closed: no more Russian oil will be imported into the EU by sea.
This is supposed to weaken Putin. But does that work? For weeks we have followed the routes of
tankers through Internet trackers. "At first we could only see it on the monitor. And you can already see all these orange dots. They are all
tankers. Some of the ships come from the Russian Black Sea ports, then they go through the Bosphorus, along the Greek coast. And if so, if you take a closer look, you can see that behind one point there is not just one
tanker, but sometimes there are two
tankers like here. One on the right and one on the left." A video from the Internet shows what could be happening.
The process is called Ship to Ship Transfer: STS. Oil is pumped from one
tanker to another. In recent reports, analysts at Lloyd's, one of the largest ship insurers, assume that STS's operations in the Gulf of Laconia serve to disguise the origin of Russian oil. A way to avoid sanctions. What until now we have only been able to see on screens, we want to try at sea. We hired a skipper. When he found out what we were planning, he showed us the tugboats of a Greek company in the port, which transport equipment from ship to ship to the
tankers. "On the other side are these balloons." The black balloons are the so-called fenders.
They protect the hulls of
tankers as they lie together. Our employer claims that he himself was present at such STS operations. "Has it increased? I mean more ship-to-ship transfers." "Yes, more Russian
tankers. All Russian." On the phone he shows us photos. They are supposed to show Russian
tankers pumping oil. About eight nautical miles from the mainland: oil
tanker in sight. There are three ships in front of us. Including the Mariner III. Sail under the flag of Panama. In the enlargement you can see the black balloons, the fenders, which are necessary for the transshipment of oil at sea.
The operation has not yet started. We will not be able to film them at the moment either, because our filming does not go unnoticed. "Spin as much as you can somehow." Our boss is on the phone. With whom? We do not know. "We weren't very close. They took some photos from afar. Now we're falling behind." Our boss doesn't know we can hear him. Apparently they know each other well. "I didn't take her close." Our boss turns around. We're back in port before the oil starts pumping. Let's try the land route. On a coastal road we follow the
tankers to the south.
Boats on the horizon. Then we spot this pair of
tankers in the distance. One of the boats is the Marina III, which we have already seen at sea with the black fenders. According to the route tracker, the
tanker was recently at a Russian oil port. Next to the Marina III is another oil
tanker, registered in the Marshall Islands. Is oil being pumped? I can't tell for sure from here. Greek lawmakers are also concerned that Russian
tankers are loading oil onto other ships to sell around the world without sanctions. "Just after the start of the Ukrainian war, the fishermen described to us that the big
tankers were entering the Lakonia gulf for the first time and that the
tankers were hitting each other and something happened.
The problem is that no country can verify what they happens outside of six miles." Where does the oil come from and where is it going? The Greek government recently stated that it could do nothing to stop the pumping of oil offshore. "As we speak, at least four ship-to-ship operations are underway." We will go out again. Maybe today we can film Russian
tankers reloading oil to avoid sanctions. "We have a faster ship today. We have a chance to get closer. I see two
tankers on the map close together that have slowed down. We suspect it will be a ship-to-ship transfer.
Let's go there now." We are lucky. Approximately in the middle of the Laconic Gulf two
tankers transferring oil. Clearly recognizable: black hoses and fenders. "I mean, I can try." "Good afternoon, gentlemen. This is Arndt Ginzel from Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. I have a question: First of all, is that Russian oil? We don't get any answers. Instead, to see from the drone's perspective: Oil slicks contaminating the sea. A few nautical miles ahead: the upcoming ship-to-ship transfer." In front of us is a ship of the Russian shipping company SCF. Next to it is a second
tanker. And we turned around a little bit and we saw that the two are now transferring oil, oil is being transferred from one ship to another.
Of course, hardly anyone will be able to determine where the oil originally came from once it ends up in a port. The Russian state shipping company SCF is under sanctions due to the war in Ukraine. The ship was last in the Russian oil port of Ust-Luga. "Gentlemen! Sounds good... Arndt Ginzel of Deutsches Fernsehen. We have questions! First: What is the goal of this STS operation? Second: Is that Russian oil? Third question: Where is it supposed to go?" oil? From December should No more Russian oil can reach Europe by sea. But how effective will the new sanctions be?
What do you think? Write it in the comments and leave a subscription. Not only for oil, but also because of the sanction of the oligarchs close to Putin. It's not easy. You can see the problems that the German authorities have with this in the video on the left.