New Delhi: A mysterious Mumbai company registered as an exporter only on March 31 this year, has grown into a giant of international oil shipping in the last 18 months, Financial Times had reported. Now, a new report has shed more light on its functionings.
The company, Gatik Ship Management, has purchased more oil tankers than any other company since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Buying Russian oil has been a point of controversy after Western nations imposed sanctions. India has been facing the at EU over its burgeoning oil trade with Russia, which is at an all-time high. India has defended itself and said it has been “in Compliance with EU regulations.”
New York Times has an expose on May 31, on a method being used by ships carting Russian oil, not only masking their movements and making it difficult for radars to track their journeys to ports which would immediately sanction them, but being able to send “fake signals” to mislead authorities that routinely track them.
The newspaper says these ships have gone beyond turning off the transponders all large vessels use to signal their location. The new method involves “using cutting-edge spoofing technology to make it appear they’re in one location when they’re really somewhere else.”
The newspaper looked at six tankers transporting oil, but disguising their movements and spoke to a US-based company, the American Club, which looks after the insurance of all six tankers.
Citing US Treasury officials, the newspaper says that “in the case of Russian crude, if a U.S. entity learns that it is providing [insurance] cover to price-cap evaders, coverage must be dropped.”
Earlier this year, Gatik has been knocked off from the list of companies the American Club was providing insurance for. The New York Times writes, “the American Club removed at least 15 vessels owned by an India-based company from its website, according to a report by Lloyd’s List. The company, Gatik Ship Management, owns a fleet of 50 newly acquired tankers dedicated to the Russian oil trade.”
Bloomberg Law also reported earlier, that Gatik Ship Management, “an oil tanker company heavily involved in moving Russian oil lost industry standard insurance for its fleet after falling foul of a Group of Seven price cap relating to the transportation of the nation’s barrels.”
As per FT earlier, Gatik has seen a sharp and meteoric rise in what it owned “just two chemical tankers in 2021” but by last month, it had 58 vessels, worth $1.6 billion.
There is little by way of records on the company, and it is yet to appear on India’s official corporate registry.
“One important clue is that Gatik shares an address in the dreary shopping mall with Mumbai-registered company Buena Vista Shipping, another little-known operation that two years ago reported a little over $100,000 worth of assets,” the report says, observing that who owns either the mall or funded Gatik is mired in mystery.
An expert had told FT earlier that the company is almost exclusively servicing Russian flows and thus could be an ultimate example of Russian oil companies who would want to get into shipping to evade western sanctions since the Ukraine war.
The Lloyds Report terms Gatik, the “dark fleet’s biggest ship owner.”