Diese Reeder bereichern sich am russischen Öl

In unserer neuen Recherche dokumentieren wir detailliert, wie mehrere Reeder aus mehreren europäischen Ländern weiterhin Öl, Kohle und Gas aus Russland importieren – trotz drohender EU-Sanktionen. In diesem Artikel werfen wir einen Blick auf jene europäische Schifffahrtsunternehmen – unter anderem im Besitz von Medienmogulen, Fußballclubbesitzern und Familiendynastien –, die weiterhin mit Russland handeln, während das Putim-Regime in der Ukraine Kriegsverbrechen begeht.

Lesen Sie die Porträts der einzelnen Schifffahrtsunternehmen im Folgenden auf Englisch:


Company: Frontline Management AS

Key People: John Fredriksen, owner

Commodity: Crude oil, coal

Fossil fuel exports: 1 million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 10

The owner of Frontline is John Fredriksen, a Norwegian-born oil and shipping magnate with Cypriot citizenship. The 78-year-old made his first fortune as a shipping broker aged 23. Today, he is estimated to be Norway’s richest person, with a reported net worth of NOK 124 billion (€12 billion). Fredriksen is no stranger to transporting cargo from suspect locations and he is said to have made a huge sums in the early 1980s from transporting oil in conflict zones, since he offered shipping where no one else dared to sail.

In 1996, he bought the Swedish tanker company Frontline and moved the business to Norway. Notoriously media shy, Fredriksen said in a rare 2017 newspaper interview that his total fleet is close to 30 million DWT.Today, Frontline is the world’s fourth largest oil tanker shipping company, and based in Bermuda. According to our analysis, Frontline tankers with a capacity of more than 1 million DWT have conducted 10 journeys from Russia since the invasion began, transporting both crude oil and coal, mainly to Asia and the Middle East.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, managing director Lars Barstad commented on the company’s voyages from Russia. At that time, the shipping company’s ship Front Cougar sailed out of Novorossiysk, loaded with Russian oil. “As soon as it is out of the Black Sea, Frontline is done with Russian ports,“ Barstad told TradeWinds in March. From April,to June, the company has transported several oil and coal shipments from Russia, according to our analysis. In an email to Investigate Europe, Barstad said the TradeWinds article was taken out of context. „Frontline ships have not been in the Black Sea since,“ Barstad said. Despite this  all the firm’s exports from Russia since March left from Ust’Luga, a port in the Baltic Sea.

In April 2022, a merger was announced between the Belgium shipping company Euronav and Frontline pending regulatory approval. Fredriksen, who resides mainly in London, already owns 15% of Euronav. Frontline did not respond to Investigate Europe’s questions on its business dealings in Russia. 

Company: Viken Shipping AS

Key People: Tom Christopher Steckmestowner

Commodity: Crude oil

Fossil fuel exports: 2.36 million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 21

Tom Christopher Steckmest, a Bergen-based shipowner and businessman, along with his family controls the crude oil transporter. The tanker company has a fleet of 17 vessels. Its ships have carried out 21 shipments of crude oil out of Russia since 24 February 2022, with a vessel capacity of more than 2.3 million DWT. 

Steckmest rarely gives interviews in Norway. When he does appears in the media, it is usually for special reasons: In autumn 2020, Steckmest witnessed a man break into a cabin on his property. The burglar was caught on camera when he smashed a window. The newspaper BA said that while Steckmest was on the phone with the police, the uninvited guest disappeared from the cabin. But the shipowner, who is one of Bergen’s richest people, followed in his car while the police were on the phone. The intruder was later arrested.

The magazine Kapital estimates that Steckmest is Norway’s 312nd richest person. Steckmest and the charter-oriented Viken have also been in the spotlight following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the owner, who has a reported fortune of NOK 1.5 billion (€150 million), telling the firm’s customers to conduct “moral shipping” and avoid Russian ports. 


Company:  Oldendorff Carriers Gmbh

Key People: Henning Oldendorff, Chairman 

Commodity: Coal 

Fossil fuel exports: 3.8 million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 43

Hamburg-based Oldendorff is among the largest bulk carrier companies in the world. The firm has offices in 18 countries and a fleet of more than 700 vessels shipping coal, grain and fertiliser products. 

Oldendorff, which according to our analysis is the German shipowner transporting most Russian fossil fuels since the Ukraine war started, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. At an event marking the occasion, Chairman Henning Oldendorff, who took over the business from his father in 1980 aged 23, said that the company had helped „many relatives and families of our employees and our seafarers from Ukraine to come to Germany and find a place to stay here“. 

But in the meantime, he had at least 20 of his ships export coal from Russia on 43 occasions. At least one trade came after the EU coal embargo began on 10 August. According to a report in German newspaper Welt, the Lübeck public prosecutor’s office had initiated a preliminary investigation. An Oldendorff spokesperson stated at the time that the company was complying with „all relevant legally binding requirements“. The company did not respond to an enquiry from Investigate Europe.

Company:  German Tanker Shipping

Commodity: Oil

Fossil fuel exports: 2.6million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 71

The Bremen-based shipping company German Tanker Shipping has been actively trading with Russia in recent months. For this reason, Greenpeace activists had already stopped the tanker Seasprat on the Weser at the beginning of March and left the words „Peace – Not Oil“ on its bow. The organisation’s climate expert, Karsten Smid, said at the time: „It cannot be that Germany continues to buy coal from Russia for billions of euros without being moved, while at the same time people in Ukraine are dying in Putin’s war.“ 

But in the weeks that followed, German Tanker ships continued to take oil out of Russian ports, in a total of 71 cases since the end of February with a capacity of 2.6 million DWT. When asked, the shipping company says it operates „within the framework of the existing, relevant laws and regulations, in particular the sanctions provisions of the EU“.

The firm, founded in 1998, operates a fleet of 15 oil product tankers, all of which they say are made in Germany.


Company: Ibaizabal Tankers

Key People: Alejandro Aznar Sainz, owner

Commodity: Crude oil 

Fossil fuel exports: 782,120 DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 5

One vessel belongs to the Spanish company Ibaizabal Tankers. It is the Monte Ulia, which carried out five transports of Russian crude oil from the port of Ust’-Luga, three time to Gdansk in Poland and twice to the Netherlands. Owners of Basque-based Ibaizabal, in the maritime trade for 160 years, are Alejandro Aznar Sainz and his family. They have an estimated net worth of €380 million, making them among the 200 richest people in Spain.

Alejandro was one of the businessmen who helped Spanish king emeritus, Juan Carlos de Borbon, to pay a fine to the Spanish treasury. Ordered to pay €4.4 million to settle his tax debts, Aznar was one of a dozen business leaders who donated funds to the king’s cause.

Aznar and his wife have also been in hot water with the authorities. In 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court issued a €200,000 fine to the couple for carrying out illegal works on their home in the Cabañeros National Park, south of Madrid. Environmentalists filed a legal complaint after it emerged the Aznars’ had built a hunting lodge without relevant permissions. Ibaizabal declined to answer any of Investigate Europe’s questions about its transportation of fossil fuels from Russia. 


Company: Gestioni armatoriali Srl

Key People: Nicola Coccia, Chairman, Gian Luca Bazzi and his sister Rossella Bazzi, who together own 50% of the company. 

Commodity: Oil and chemicals tankers

Fossil fuel exports: 186,452 DTW capacity

Number of shipments:  5

Gestioni Armatoriali was the largest Italian exporter (186,452 DWT capacity) during the period, our data analysis shows. Based in the eastern port city of Ravenna, with a registered office in Naples, the company is run by Nicola Coccia, a former president of Confitarma (the Italian Shipowners’ Association) and siblings Gian Luca and Rossella Bazzi. 

Founded in 1993, the company manages three ships, including the San Felix, which completed three of the firm’s five shiipments from Russia since the invasion began.   

Gestioni also has several real estate interests. The Bazzi siblings are among the investors in the construction of a new cruise port in Ravenna, alongside US giant Royal Caribbean International. The firm failed to respond to Investigate Europe’s request for comment.


Company: Capital Ship Management Corporation

Key People: Evangelos Marinakisowner

Commodity: Crude oil/Oil

Fossil fuel exports: 514,764 DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 6

Through this venture and his Capital Maritime and Trading business, Evangelos Marinakis, 52, has amassed a fortune from shipping fossil fuels and cargo around the world. The firm, headquartered in Marinakis’ home city of Piraeus near Athens, operates a fleet of more than 70 vessels. He has a reported net worth of around €700 million. 

Owner of football clubs Olympiacos in Greece and English Premier League side Nottingham Forest, Marinakis’ Capital Ship Management facilitated the transportation of Russian crude oil between March and July on vessels with 514,764 DWT capacity, according to the CREA data. Nottingham Forest have supported a Unicef campaign against the conflict as well as several Premier League initiatives. Meanwhile, in April, Olympiacos hosted Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in a ‘Global Tour for Peace’ friendly match. In the four days prior, almost 150,000 DWT of Russian oil landed in the Netherlands and the UK courtesy of Marinakis’ Alkinoos and Aristidis vessels. Capital Ship Management did not respond to comment requests for this article. 

Company:  Avin International

Key People: Vardis Vardinoyannis

Commodity: Crude oil, Oil products / Oil

Fossil fuel exports: 1.6 million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 16

Vardis Vardinoyannis, 88, is the chairman of Motor Oil Hellas, one of the biggest oil companies in Greece, as well as of the Vegas Oil and Gas, a petroleum and gas exploration company, mainly operating in Egypt. Vardinoyannis Group also owns Avin International, a Greek-based company managing more than 35 oil and chemical tankers with a total capacity of over 2.5 million tonnes.

Vardinoyannis was included in Lloyd’s List’s Most Influential People in Shipping and is also included in Forbes List with an estimated fortune of $1.6 billion. He and his wife, Marianna Vardinoyannis, are among the founders of the Robert Kennedy leadership council along with the former US president Bill Clinton and other world leaders. The Vardinoyannis family owned the Panathinaikos football team from 1979 to 2008.According to CREA data, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Avin International ships carried 16 shipments of crude oil or oil products from Russia. The total capacity of the tankers making the transfers was 1.6 million DWT. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

Company:  TMS Tankers / TMS Dry

Key People: George Economou

Commodity: Crude oil, Oil or chemical, Oil, Coal

Fossil fuel exports: 9.2 million capacity

Number of shipments: 78

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, George Economou, the 69-year-old Greek shipping billionaire, has been consistent in topping the world’s list of shipowners transporting fossil fuels from Russia. Through the TMS shipping group, Economou has carried out 78 trips on vessels totaling 9.2 million DWT in capacity. 

Hosted in the Lloyd’s List Top 100 Shipping People every year since 2010, the “mercurial” Economou, as the shipping press calls him, has been active in shipping as an owner of oil tankers and dry bulk ships but also in the past as an investor in deep sea oil rigs. 

A prominent patron of the arts, Economou has his own gallery in the Tate Modern in London and is the owner of a private collection that goes by his own name in Athens. In 2019 he made the arts world headlines with his gift of a painting by Peter Doing to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York. Economou did not respond to requests for comment.

Company:  Kyklades Maritime

Key People: Ioannis Alafouzos

Commodity: Crude oil / Oil

Fossil fuel exports: 2.1 million DWT capacity

Number of shipments: 15

Ioannis Alafouzos is chairman of Kyklades Maritime, a company that owns 22 tankers. He owns the Greek television and radio station SKAΙ, which has been highly critical of president Vladimir Putin and has opposed the Russian war in Ukraine. At the same time, SKAI has developed charitable activities by collecting and sending food and products to Ukraine. 

“We are deeply shocked by the atrocities perpetrated against the innocent people of Ukraine and we condemn the Russian state’s invasion,” said Alafouzos in the 2021 annual report of Okeanis, another of his companies.

However, the Alafouzos family continues to transfer Russian fossil fuels. According to CREA data, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Alafouzos’ ships have carried out 15 shipments of crude oil or oil from Russia. The total capacity of the tankers making the transfers was 2.1 million DWT.

Grafiken: Marta Portocarrero