May 27. 2024. 9:51

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Albanian authorities seize suspected contraband oil destined for Russia

A Liberian-flagged vessel was raided in Albanian waters on Monday after law enforcement authorities suspected it of violating sanctions against Russia, and some 22,500 tonnes of oil were found on board.

In an operation codenamed Embargo, the vessel and its 22-person crew were stopped in the country’s territorial waters.

“The vessel had departed from Azerbaijan, and it is alleged that it was then loaded with oil at the Port of Kalamata, Greece, from another vessel, in an amount of 22,500 tons of diesel fuel,” the police explained in the media release.

But Albanian authorities suspect that the oil came from Russia, which is currently under embargo, and the fuel has been smuggled as the correct documentation was unavailable. This is the latest in a number of similar operations where smuggled fuel has been seized in Albanian waters.

BIRN estimated that in four recent operations, almost 200,000 tonnes of suspected contraband oil had been seized from Russia and Libya, worth an estimated €400 million.

In January, police arrested 13 people, including ten foreigners and three Albanians, for trying to smuggle 62,000 tonnes of oil from Libya. Before that, in July 2022, a motor fishing vessel was seized with some 80,000 tonnes of oil on it. Some 25,000 tonnes were found in September, with another 2,275 tonnes found a month later.

(Alice Taylor |