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UAE Bans Tankers Flying Cameroon Flag On Safety Concern

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January 9, 2024

(Bloomberg) —

The United Arab Emirates banned ships arriving in its waters that sail under the flag of Cameroon — a move that distances the emirate from risky vessels that have been assembled to transport sanctioned oil. 

The Cameroon flag has been added to a restricted list and maritime companies and ship agents should not provide vessels registered in the African country with services, according to a Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure circular published on the Port of Fujairah website. The ban won’t apply to ships that have been assessed by a wider international classification body. 

Most merchant ships sail under flags far from the countries in which they’re owned or operated. Popular ones include Panama and the Marshall Islands, which are integral in upholding safety standards in the shipping industry.

But when Russia assembled a vast shadow fleet of tankers to keep its oil moving in the face of US sanctions, part of that fleet turned to little-known flags such as Cameroon’s.

As recently as the middle of last year, Cameroon was designated as having a very high risk of vessels failing safety inspections when calling at ports. 

The Cameroon-registered fleet of oil tankers is small but most have been to Russia in the past year.

Of the 14 Cameroon-flagged oil carriers small enough to collect oil from Russian ports, 11 did so in the past 12 months, industry data collated by Bloomberg show.

They account for less than 1% of Russia’s total oil shipments.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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