Venezuela’s largest oil tanker, the Ayacucho, now sails under the Russian flag with the name “Maxim Gorky”. The ship operated in the Latin American nation under the name Ayacucho since 2013, but in May 2020 it was renamed Maxim Gorky, Al-Masdar News informed based on the EQUASIS shipping database.
The newly renamed Maxim Gorky is currently the largest oil tanker in operation in Russia. It has a VLCC class (Extra Large Ore Carriers), weighing around 320,800 tons. Prior to this, Russian’s largest oil carriers were the Umpa (300,000 tons) and the Cola (309,000).
Chinese shipyard Bohai Shipbuilding delivered the Ayacucho to state-owned oil company PDVSA in 2013.
“This tanker carries two million barrels. Never before has Venezuela had a tanker with these characteristics. It is almost as big as an aircraft carrier (…) the aircraft carrier of the homeland, of sovereignty,” Rafael Ramirez Carreño, former Minister of Oil and Mines, said at the time.
The Ayacucho was part of a group of four super tankers owned by Singapore’s CV Shipping, a joint venture founded by PDVSA and PetroChina, according to Russian news agency Sputnik.
The Ayacucho now sailing under the Russian flag
Once the United States launched its first sanctions against PDVSA, insurer Standard Club revoked its tankers’ policy. Insurance broker for CV Shipping, Willis Towers Watson, explained the company made the decision since “it did not want to be exposed to the risk of becoming subject to sanctions.”
The law in Singapore requires all vessels have a Protection and Indemnity insurance to set sail.
This policy offers protection in case that a third party presents a claim for damages caused by the ensured ship. Since its policy was revoked by Standard Club, CV Shipping’s tankers were unable to navigate the waters of the Asian country, a PetroChina lawyer said.
As a result, CV Shipping, which income ranged between $600,000 and $14 million during 2013-2018, found itself losing $500,000 a month; since it had to pay the commission for management and fuel while not generating an income for fuel transportation.
In light of this, in January 2020, a year after the sanctions on PDVSA were first announced, PetroChina appealed to a Singapore court to liquidate CV Shipping. The Chinese oil company now has three tankers, while its Venezuelan partner kept control of the Ayacucho.
For more information, check Energía16