Chinese-owned VLCCs involved in dark ship-to-ship (STS) transfers in the summer have returned to the Atlantic on ballast before an expected second round of loading Russian oil for Asian markets, according to data analyst Vortexa.

It said four tankers that loaded Russian oil in STS operations from June to August had either arrived back in the Atlantic or were being tracked there after discharging their cargoes in China and off Malaysia.

The 298,600-dwt Lauren II (2004) has been lying off the coast of Sierra Leone for nearly two months, according to Kpler tracking data.