Russia unloads an oil cargo at an obscure Egyptian port, as ships carrying its crude increasingly cover their tracks

Russia unloads an oil cargo at an obscure Egyptian port, as ships carrying its crude increasingly cover their tracks
Russian oil has been increasingly involved in "dark activity" since the country invaded Ukraine.Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images
  • Russian oil is being transported via a mysterious Egyptian port as Western sanctions loom.
  • The port makes it possible to blend Russian and Egyptian crude, obscuring its origin.

Russia has found a way to cover its tracks in the face of Western sanctions by transporting its oil via an Egyptian port, according to Bloomberg.

On the morning of July 24, a cargo of about 700,000 barrels of Russian oil was delivered to Egypt's El Hamra oil terminal situated on the Mediterranean coast, Bloomberg reported. Just a few hours later, another ship, named the Chris, picked up a shipment that may have included some or all of the Russian barrels, the news agency said.

At El Hamra, which is operated by Egypt's Western Desert Operating Petroleum, there are opportunities to mix Russian barrels with Egyptian crude, per Bloomberg, making it difficult to track its origin.

Russia is already using Egypt as a transit route to transport its fuel to Saudi Arabia at increasing amounts. Russian barrels first travel to Egypt's Ain Sukhna terminal in the Red Sea, before being shipped to western ports in Saudi territory.

The move undercuts efforts by the Western world to diminish Russia's revenue from energy exports, in which its oil and gas sales are projected to hit $285 billion this year.


The US and the European Union have imposed a string of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine. In May, EU leaders agreed they would phase out Russian energy, and will cut some 90% of oil imports from the country by the end of the year, while the US placed an embargo on Russian oil, gas and coal imports.

To that effect, there has been a rise in dark activity involving Russian oil. In June, at least three Russian oil tankers "went dark" near Portugal's Azores islands, meaning the ship hides its final destination or other details about the vessel's movements, by switching off their tracking signals.

Russia oil involved in "dark" ship-to-ship transfers, a method of unloading cargo from one ship to another while at sea, have also been on the rise. Specifically, cargoes bound from Russia to China via dark transfers are increasing as analysts contend China may not want to come under harsher scrutiny itself.