Albanian law enforcement authorities have raided a Liberian-flagged vessel in their territorial waters on suspicion of violating sanctions against Russia. The vessel and its 22-person crew were apprehended on Monday in an operation called Embargo, during which approximately 22,500 tonnes of oil were discovered onboard.
According to a media release by the police, the vessel had departed from Azerbaijan and stopped in the Port of Kalamata, Greece, where it was loaded with diesel fuel from another vessel. Albanian authorities suspect that the oil was smuggled from Russia as proper documentation was not available. This marks the latest in a series of similar operations where contraband fuel has been seized in Albanian waters.
BIRN, a Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, estimates that nearly 200,000 tonnes of suspected smuggled oil worth around €400 million have been confiscated from Russia and Libya in four recent operations. In January, police detained 13 people, including ten foreigners and three Albanians, for attempting to smuggle 62,000 tonnes of oil from Libya. In July 2022, a motor fishing vessel was seized with 80,000 tonnes of oil onboard. In September, another 25,000 tonnes were found, with an additional 2,275 tonnes seized a month later. Photo by darkobajic, Wikimedia commons.