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Russia seeks to boost acceptance of its shipping insurance


(Reuters) — Moscow is seeking to bolster the recognition of Russian maritime cargo insurance to allow it to ship oil and related products abroad in the face of Western sanctions, a government official was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia's military campaign in Ukraine have restricted Russia's ability to secure costly liability insurance for its ships — a segment requiring financial heft and dominated by European reinsurers, in which Russia has little experience or capacity.

Deputy Transport Minister Alexander Poshivay, speaking at a China-Russia energy conference in Moscow, acknowledged the challenges faced by Russian shippers.

In addition to a lack of access to insurance services traditionally provided by European and U.S. companies, they had also had to deal with non-recognition of certificates issued by Russian insurers and the Russian National Reinsurance Co. because Lloyd's syndicates had declared Russian waters a war risk zone.

European Union and Group of Seven governments have been trying to agree on a price cap for Russian seaborne crude oil — which represents some 70% to 85% of Russia's crude exports —to restrict Moscow's ability to finance its campaign in Ukraine.

The main tool to enforce it would be prohibiting shipping, insurance and reinsurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless they had been sold for less than the cap set by the G7 and its allies.

Mr. Poshivay said Russian state-flagged vessels now being denied insurance by Western companies were being insured with Russian insurance companies and reinsured with the Russian National Reinsurance Co., according to Interfax.

The news agency quoted him as saying that Turkey recognized Russian insurance of maritime cargo, and that India and China recognized most Russian insurance but not all.

“The issue (of recognition of Russian insurance) is to be worked out with the whole world,” Mr. Poshivay said, adding that the specific conditions “are determined by intergovernmental agreements.”

No comment was immediately available from Turkish, Indian or Chinese authorities. However, a source at a Turkish shipping company said Turkish authorities had not given any instructions or unofficial guidance on recognizing Russian insurance.

Mr. Poshivay suggested that China for one should recognize the certificates issued by Russian maritime insurance and reinsurance companies as guarantees of risk coverage.

He said that in the first nine months of this year, the Russian Federation had increased seaborne exports of hydrocarbons to China by 25%, to 87 million tons.