Uncovering sanctioned oil exports using AIS Position Validation

Learn how Spire Maritime's AIS Position Validation exposes spoofing behavior to bust sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports.

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In April 2023, a Panama-flagged oil tanker, capable of carrying over 2 million barrels of oil, crossed the Cape of Good Hope, south of Cape Town.

Its reported destination was "CABINDA", in Angola, an area known for its offshore oil platforms.

Where did the vessel go next?

As it entered the Atlantic Ocean, it travelled North, before becoming almost stationary for a long period of time, West of the Angolan coast.

Its AIS-reported route looks normal - but its actual route was very different.

What was the vessel's actual route?

Using AIS Position Validation, it is possible to understand that the ship was spoofing its position.

The actual vessel's route, as calculated by AIS Position Validation, is going across the Atlantic Ocean, heading Northwest.

How can we confirm this?

We then looked at major shipping route patterns for tanker vessels, which allowed us to predict where the ship would be at its actual route.

By cross-checking SAR imagery in that predicted area, we were able to find the ship in question at the predicted time, matching the ship's appearance and dimensions.

Where did the vessel end up going?

Following the calculated positions creates a trail to the vessel's final destination: Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world.

Here, draught information changes suggest the ship loaded up on oil before departing again.

Key figures and more