Poland’s state energy company Orlen has used at least 10 tankers that had carried Russian crude to Asia to import oil from the Middle East, Reuters has reported, citing unnamed trading sources.
This means that the price of the imported crude must have been below $60 per barrel, under the EU and G7 price cap for Russian crude, which also covers the vessels used to ship it abroad.
In this way, the report noted, Orlen can get lower shipping rates.
The price cap was devised to curb Russian oil revenues with the stipulation that Western companies can only provide shipping and insurance services for Russian oil and oil product cargos if the price of the cargo is below the cap.
Orlen told Reuters it had not been involved in shipments of Russian oil or products, saying in a statement that “All our activities, including those related to the delivery of crude oil, are in line with the applicable sanctions.”
The cap prompted Russia to redirect the bulk of its oil and oil product exports east, to the Middle East and Asia, while European buyers, including Orlen, switched to Middle Eastern and U.S. crude, and Asian fuels.
The Polish state company was previously one of the biggest buyers of Russian crude for its refineries in Poland and Lithuania.
Following the introduction of the price cap, Russian oil exporters turned to non-Western vessels, building what the media called “a shadow fleet” of tankers to carry oil and fuels around.
The tankers that Orlen chartered to carry Middle Eastern crude on their way back from Asia, however, were managed by two Greek firms, the Reuters report said, meaning they had to comply with the price cap.
Russia, meanwhile, has rerouted its oil exports to China, now using the Arctic route, which is faster, reducing the cost of the cargoes.