From the rundown Neptune Magnet Mall in Mumbai, a giant of international oil shipping has emerged over the past 18 months, seemingly from nowhere. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the company has bought more oil tankers than anyone else, elevating itself from an unknown Indian shipping business into one of the world’s largest vessel owners. (FT, 05.04.23)
Operating from the rundown Neptune Magnet Mall in suburban Bhandup, Gatik Ship Management has emerged as the biggest international tanker fleet owner, transporting Russian crude oil to India. The shipping company has seen phenomenal growth, starting with just two tankers in 2021 and going on to acquire a 58-strong fleet valued at US$ 1.6 billion in just 18 months, registered largely in St Kitts and Nevis.
Mumbai-based Gatik, registered as an exporter, has shipped 83 million barrels of crude and oil products from Russian oil giant Rosneft, to Indian ports. However, when The Free Press Journal visited Neptune Magnet Mall, it found the office of Gatik Ship Management, on the third floor, locked, with a ‘For Rent and Sale’ sign pasted on the main door. Enquiries with the neighbouring offices revealed that Gatik shared office space with Buena Vista Shipping.
Gatik acquired 56 vessels since March 2022
The ageing fleet of Gatik oil tankers did not have an insurance cover from any recognised, large mutual providers and had earlier transported crude oil from around the world but was now focussing solely on Russian oil.
Shipping expert VesselsValue, which tracks ship sales, has claimed that Gatik acquired 56 vessels since March 2022, with 13 vessels in December 2022 when the European Union ban on Russian oil began. Gatik added 10 ships to its fleet in 2023, with VesselsValue reporting its fleet as being made up of 44 tankers with an average age of 17 years, now worth $1.39bn.
According to VesselsValue, Gatik’s newly acquired fleet of oil tankers has largely shipped 83 million barrels of Russian crude oil to India.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) had recently warned US shipping service providers to guard against facilitating sanctioned trade amidst the rise of a global ‘ghost fleet’ of opaquely owned vessels willing to risk sanctions and serving lucrative oil markets.
The International Group of Protection & Indemnity Clubs had withdrawn cover for most of the tankers operated by Gatik. The 12 members of the IGP&I provide cover to around 95 per cent of the world’s fleet.
Under international sanctions applied by G7 countries and Australia, shipowners are required to provide insurers and other service providers, with attestations that they are not carrying Russian oil purchased above the price cap.
Russian oil exports from its eastern ports like Kozmino, have regularly traded above the price cap, triggering international sanctions. The American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, Inc. (The American Club), was the single largest provider of insurance services to Gatik.
About Gatik’s growth
Gatik Ship Management has seen phenomenal growth, starting with just 2 tankers in 2021 and going on to acquire a 58-strong fleet valued at US$ 1.6 billion in just 18 months, registered largely in St Kitts and Nevis. According to shipping expert VesselsValue, Gatik’s newly acquired fleet of oil tankers has largely shipped 83 million barrels of Russian crude oil to India.