A document used for fuel transfers constitutes a central part of Dan-Bunkering’s explanation in a press release responding to reports of possible
After receiving a number of questions from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (
The case concerns supplies of at least 30,000 metric tons of jet fuel to Syria in 2016 and 2017, paid by an agent of the Russian military and delivered to two Russian petroleum tankers which subsequently shipped the jet fuel to Syria for use in Russian fighter jets.
The alleged jet fuel scheme is described in U.S. Court Records. Dan-Bunkering is not identified by name in the records and is not a party in the case, but
Dan-Bunkering’s involvement in the case was first reported by
In a statement released last week, Dan-Bunkering confirmed transfers of fuel to the Russian tankers but denied having violated
- None of the BDR-documents related to the ships mentioned by
Document not relevant
The Danish Maritime Authority, however,
- A Bunker Delivery Note (BDR) is a note related to fuel used for ship propulsion. It is not a note related to cargo, Director of Ship Survey, Certification and Manning Martin John said.
- There is no requirement for information on the destination of the fuel, exactly because it is a note documenting fuel for ship propulsion, said Martin John.
Confronted with the statements from the Danish Maritime Authority, Dan-Bunkering sent an e-mail to the Danish public broadcaster acknowledging that the company’s press release was flawed.
- Dan-Bunkering’s press release should have stated ‘delivery document’ instead of ‘BDR’. Furthermore, we can inform you that none of Dan-Bunkering’s delivery documents name Syria as the end destination, the company’s attorney Peter Appel wrote.
According to Trond Solvang, a professor at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law at
- To me, ‘delivery documents’ is not a clear-cut term. In the maritime industry you typically use load documents such as the bill of lading, which contains information about the quality of the cargo, the quantity, origin and destination, among other things. Normally these documents are not referred to as delivery documents, said Trond Solvang.
Neil Watts, a Senior Research Associate at King’s College
- The value and nature of the fuel embarked (jet fuel, ed.) will certainly require a great deal more checks and balances for all parties, he said.
Neil Watts has advised the United Nations’ Security Council on maritime sanctions and is a former Navy Captain.
He examined location data for one of the vessels which, according to information in U.S. Court Records, shipped jet fuel to Syria after receiving transfers from Dan-Bunkering.
Using the so-called Windward database, he found that the vessel made at least 82 ”dark voyages” from 2013-2019. This means the vessel’s automatic identification system (AIS) was switched off, which is a known method for hiding illegal activity.
- This is an indicator that the vessel is no stranger to masking its movement and such a pattern should certainly have warranted closer examination by anyone wanting to screen the vessel, Neil Watts said.
Historical AIS data is publicly available on the internet.
Stephen Osborne, a Research Associate at King’s College
- It is surprising that an
He added that best practice would be to check all details of the recipient vessel, including history and previous movements and to include end use verification in any contract.
- To have done so in this case would have revealed the ship's previous reported involvement in jet fuel transfers to Syria, as well as frequent gaps in AIS transmission, which is often an indicator of clandestine activity.
Russian tankers in the news
The description of the Bunker Delivery Receipt is the only information in Dan-Bunkering’s press release directly relating to the company's jet fuel deliveries to the ships mentioned in
The statement also said the company has an advanced compliance system, which blocks sanctioned trading partners and ships that appear on an official sanctions list.
Local Danish police are currently examining Dan-Bunkering’s possible violation of the
Dan-Bunkering said it has not delivered jet fuel to Syria or to a company on the
Brought up in parliament
Reacting to the latest information, Naser Khader, defence spokesman for the ruling Conservative People's Party and chairman of the Danish Parliament's Defence Committee, urged Dan-Bunkering to be forthcoming with information.
- It is time for the company to take this seriously and put their cards on the table. The case is being examined so they might as well be honest. At the time, you would know from just reading the headlines that doing business with the Russians in the Mediterranean Sea would bolster Assad (the President of Syria, ed.) I would be very puzzled if they were unaware of that link, he said.
The Legal Affairs Committee has tabled a number of questions to the Minister of Justice to shed light on the case.