The External Affairs Ministry (MEA) has to take a call on allowing ships sanctioned by USA into India , a senior Shipping Ministry official said on Friday. The ships carrying Russian crude are expected to land later this month or in December.

Three oil tankers, allegedly sanctioned earlier this month by the US, are reported to have shipped Sokol crude from Russia to a top Indian refiner. 

The three Aframax-sized tankers had discharged Russian Sokol crude in India in between September and October. The three vessels reportedly obtained safety certification from the Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass), sources said. 

Ministry officials said the transactions did not take place at any of the major Indian ports operated by the Shipping Ministry. 

MEA’s call

A CREA report has also pointed out that Sikka and Vadinar ports in India are among the top ports that are importing Russian crude oil and exporting refined petroleum products to Europe. “In case there is a sanction and in case of lapse of shipping insurance, the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) has to take a call on whether to allow these ships into Indian waters or not, especially when it’s a non-major port. The said ships in question are likely to be docked at a State port, and so, it’s not the Shipping Ministry’s call at the moment,” the official said. 

According to a senior Shipping Ministry official, the operator of the vessel that intends to enter into the Indian territorial waters or Indian port facilities or the Indian offshore facilities for any purpose shall submit either himself or through his shipping agent the copies of the insurance policy and the Certificate of Class of the vessel to the concerned port authority 48 hours before entering a port or offshore facilities or before entering into the Indian territorial waters, whichever is earlier.

The operator shall ensure that the insurance policy and the Certificate of Class “remains valid during the vessels stay in the port areas or offshore terminal under the jurisdiction of India or areas in the coastal waters of India”, the official said, citing the existing rules. 

However, in cases where the existing protection and indemnity policies providing insurance coverage for vessels against maritime claims have been cancelled, suspended or have become null and void for any reason whatsoever, “the operator has to forthwith obtain a new protection and indemnity insurance policy for the vessel”.

The insurance certificate and protection and indemnity insurance policy for maritime claimsand the Certificate of Class shall be kept on board and available for inspection.

The Liberian-flagged ships hit with sanctions are the Kazan, Ligovsky Prospect and NS Century, it was said. 

Current rules state the Port Authority shall verify the validity of the insurance policy and the Certificate of Class of the vessel and these documents shall be kept on board.

The Indian Coastguard and Indian Navy may also check and verify the protection and indemnity insurance and the name of Classification Society of the vessel, if considered necessary. “If the vessel is not in possession of a valid protection and indemnity insurance and certificate of class, the, matter shall be reported to the Directorate General of Shipping immediately for appropriate action,” the official said.