(Reuters) — Turkey welcomed an agreement reached with its counterparts on Tuesday that allows the continuation of a new regulation requiring crude oil tankers to present an insurance confirmation letter before passing through the Turkish Straits.
The Turkish measures, which came into effect on December 1, require ships to provide proof of insurance for the duration of transit through the Bosphorus or when calling at Turkish ports.
The regulation has caused shipping delays, with up to 20 tankers waiting at the same time in the Black Sea last week as they worked to present the necessary documents.
Turkey’s maritime authority said 22 of the 26 crude oil tankers arriving in the Bosphorus had presented the required letter, and 19 of them had already passed through the strait.
Four ships are still waiting in the Black Sea and authorities are still waiting for an insurance confirmation letter before allowing them to pass through the Bosphorus, which divides Istanbul.
“It is pleasing that the talks we have had with our counterparts have been concluded with the acceptance of our new rules that will protect the Turkish Straits and that maritime trade will continue as usual,” the maritime authority said.
Western insurers have said the rules would mean they would have to provide cover even in the event a ship violates sanctions against countries including Russia, something they were not prepared to do.
The revised letter template seen by Reuters showed the wording had been changed, indicating that insurers would not be liable in all circumstances.
Norwegian ship insurer Gard confirmed an agreement had been reached allowing ships carrying crude oil cargoes to continue their journeys through Turkish-controlled waters following “significant engagement” between Turkey and the International Group ship insurance association.
A Gard spokesperson added that they were pleased that an agreement had finally been reached.
There was no immediate comment from the international group.
Industry sources said the new template had already been used by some of the Western insurance companies to enable some of the stuck tankers to sail.