Every month, ilmenite is delivered by sea to the Kerch port of Kamysh-Burun in the east of occupied Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea to serve the sole buyer – the Armiansk Titan plant in the north of Crimea, part of the corporate group that belongs to Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash, who has been arrested in Austria in 2014 and can be extradited to the US to face corruption charges.
In 2017, the Black Sea News registered several ilmenite-supply schemes to bypass the sanctions. The Ukrainian port Pivdennyi, Brazil, and the Turkish port of Samsun were involved in the schemes. In most cases, ilmenite was first delivered to the Kerch Strait (Roadstead 451 belonging to the Russian Port Kavkaz), then transshipped in the sea onto the Russian ships and later unloaded in the Kerch port of Kamysh-Burun.
However, the investigators have recently found that ilmenite was shipped from Norway in November 2017 via the Romanian port of Constanța.
The investigation by Black Sea News revealed that during November 3-6, the German cargo ship HHL MISSISSIPPI received 10 tons of ilmenite in the Norwegian port of Jøssingfjord, the site of one of the largest in Western Europe titanium mines Tellnes. From there, it traveled to the Romanian port of Constanța and on 23 November 2017, under the flag of Liberia, came to the roadstead of the Russian Port Kavkaz in the Kerch Strait (the same roadstead 451) to remain there until 5 December 2017.
During its stay, an old Russian cargo ship NEFTERUDOVOZ-2 approached it for at least three times, and the HHL MISSISSIPPI onboard cranes loaded ilmenite to the Russian ship’s holds. The Russian vessel delivered the raw material to the Kerch port of Kamysh-Burun.
Vessel type: General Cargo
Gross tonnage: 9,611 tons
Summer DWT: 12,669 tons
Length: 138 m
Beam: 21 m
Draught: 7.6 m
Build year: 2009
|Class society: Germanischer Lloyd
Registered owner ZWEITE SCHIFFS GMBH & CO KG Care of Hansa Heavy Lift GmbH, Oberbaumbruecke 1, 20457 Hamburg, Germany. since 21/10/2011
Ship manager/Commercial manager HANSA HEAVY LIFT GMBH Oberbaumbruecke 1, 20457 Hamburg, Germany. since 25/06/2011
23.11.17 – arrived from Constanța to a Port Kavkaz roadstead with the ilmenite ore cargo for the Crimean Titant plant. Transshipped the ore onto the dry cargo ships for delivery to Kamysh-Burun. Left on 05.12.17.
Vessel type: Ore/oil Carrier
Callsign: UFZDGross tonnage: 2,616 tons
Summer DWT: 3,345 tons
Length: 119 m
Beam: 13 m
Draught: 3.6 m
Build year: 1969
|Class society: Russian River Register
Ship manager/Commercial manager YEYA SHIPPING LTD Office 311, ul Armavirskaya 45, Yeysk, Krasnodarskiy Kray, 353680, Russia. since 27/05/2008
25.11.17 – Kamysh-Burun from roadstead, 2600 t ilmenite from HHL MISSISSIPPI (IMO: 9435765)
HHL MISSISSIPPI is intended for other types of cargo. The Reputable, world-known German HANSA HEAVY LIFT GMBH that it belongs to specializes in the transportation of oversized heavy goods.
Romania doesn’t produce the titanium raw materials and HHL MISSISSIPPI had stayed for only about 14 hours there.
As it can be seen in the photo made on 21 November 2017 in the port of Constanța, the mooring where the HHL MISSISSIPPI moored is not intended for bulk cargoes. And really, in Constanța, the ship unloaded metal structures:
It emerged that on 7 November 2017, the ship took on the deck those metal constructions in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden, and the following day left for Constanța.
The further investigation unraveled that on 2 November 2017, HHL MISSISSIPPI left the port of Bremen and on 3 November arrived at the small Norwegian port of Jøssingfjord, the site one of the largest in Norwegian and one of the largest in Western Europe titanium mines, Tellnes. The mine is run by Titania, while the fjord is used as the company’s port.
It was there that between November 3-6, 2017, HHL MISSISSIPPI accepted a cargo of 10,000 tons of ilmenite ore for the occupied Crimea.
Thus, sadly, the reputable companies from Germany and Norway were involved in the illegal scheme of the export supplies to the occupied Crimea. And this is no single incident. Another Black Sea News investigation released one month later showed that on 20 December 2017 another German bulk carrier CALLISTO (IMO: 9427392), under the same flag of Liberia, but with twice as big a deadweight, arrived at the Russian port of Kavkaz. This means, the outlet writes, we can assume it brought up to 25,000 tons of ilmenite ore to Firtash’s Titan factory.
The bulker left the same Norwegian port of Jøssingfjord on 5 December, where one of the largest titanium mines of West Europe is situated. The mine is run by the company Titania, and the fjord is used as a port of the company. Callisto is owned by the company HEINZ CORLEIS REEDEREI KG (Kampweg 4A, 21706 Drochtersen, Germany.)
On 23 December 2017, ilmenite begun being transshipped on board of the same Russian cargo ship NEFTERUDOVOZ-2. Black Sea News concludes that this is evidence of a scheme of sanctions evasion, and that it’s likely that Dmytro Firtash has concluded a large agreement with the Norwegian ilmenite producer.
Black Sea News notes that similar schemes have been recorded earlier involving the Ukrainian port Pivdennyi, Brazil and the largest one — the Turkish port Samsun. Such schemes were stopped as journalist investigations put them in the spotlight.
- Following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, which began in February 2014, the United States, Canada, Australia, the European Union and other European countries including Ukraine introduced sanctions against individuals, businesses, and officials from Russia and Ukraine. While Norway is not part of the EU, it has aligned its sanctions with the EU.
- Some of the economic sanctions specifically target Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula, annexed by Russia on 18 March 2014. They prohibit the import or export of goods and technology in several sectors, including services directly related to tourism and infrastructure. Crimean ports are officially closed by Ukraine for ship traffic.
- Chairman of Group DF Dmytro Firtash was arrested in Austria on 12 March 2014 at the request of US authorities.
- As of December 2017, tycoon Firtash remained in Austria, after the Austrian Supreme Court ordered a stay of Mr. Firtash’s extradition to the US pending its review.
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