Sanctions Puzzle Demands Both Human and Artificial Intelligence  

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Published Mar 22, 2022 10:51 PM by Dominic McKnight Hardy

The ongoing situation regarding sanctions on Russia is constantly evolving. At the time of writing, the global focus has moved away from placing sanctions on companies related to key individuals and instead towards squeezing the purchase of any Russian hydrocarbon cargoes regardless of vessel ownership. Moreover, the UK government is pushing a bill to auto-adopt any new EU and US sanctions into law, as well as the need to duplicate or match the sanctions of other regimes to ensure that they are effective over multiple jurisdictions.

More than 500 sanctions have now been introduced over the past few weeks, so charterers need to decide quickly which will be their deal-breakers and the fundamental basis for operational decisions. While the sanctions themselves are black and white, a traditional ‘traffic light system’ is not viable in the current scenario and could make decisions regarding when and how to react to specific sanctions more difficult.

In this climate, it is critical to empower ship owners, operators, charterers and energy companies by providing combined intelligence from multiple high-level data sources and detailed analyses to support their decision-making. And this is where marine assurance comes to the fore, providing not just vetting but also compliance functions.

Charterers need to decide which sanctions will have the most impact on their stakeholders to make accurate and fast decisions. For global energy companies, they are not only required to have a comprehensive understanding of sanctions as they happen, but also a daily level of analysis to establish their levels of risk exposure to the Russian market, based on specific products. Add to that the importance of crew welfare and safety – another form of compliance monitoring, this time to labor convention and welfare - which requires sensitivity and data in equal measure, and the industry is not only faced with a geopolitical matter, but a safeguarding one too.

Automated systems can only do so much to help shipping companies work through the sanctions on Russia. By taking data relating to vessel locations, voyage histories, vessel ownership and operation, as well as cargo and crew manifests, and combining it with human intelligence, MIS Marine is actively advising on the ever-changing scenarios. This includes safety risks around Ukrainian crew onboard vessels, and financial risks around payments for crew members where banking facilities may be restricted.

We are seeing first-hand the accelerated requirement for human analysis and interpretation paired with AI. With the current pace and scale of change, it is this combination that converts data into presentable facts that are ready to take to the boardroom or the bridge, enabling crucial and timely decisions to be made with confidence. This is a global event that is having major economic, industrial and legislative complications, but at the root of this is a humanitarian crisis with complexity that reaches beyond data and that requires sensitivity, context and expertise that only people can truly understand.

Dominic McKnight Hardy is Managing Director at MIS Marine.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.