Russian oil getting into UK via loophole

Most of the fuel imported – 4.6 million barrels – was jet fuel, which the group’s researchers suggested was used in one in 20 UK flights…reports Asian Lite News

Millions of barrels of fuel made from Russian oil are still being imported to the UK despite sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, research claims.

A so-called “loophole” means Russian crude is refined in countries such as India and the products sold to the UK. This is not illegal and does not breach the UK’s Russian oil ban, but critics say it undermines sanctions aimed at restricting Russia’s war funds.

The UK government denied there had been any imports of Russian oil since 2022. But a spokesman said internationally recognised “rules of origin” define that crude, once refined in another country, is classed for the purposes of trade as originating from the refining country.

The UK is among many Western countries to ban the import of all oil and oil products that originate in Russia in a bid to hit the amount of cash Moscow can generate from fossil fuels. But two separate reports, shared exclusively with the BBC, suggest the rules on refining enable products made from Russian crude oil to arrive on UK soil.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said this “refining loophole” meant countries such as India and China, who have not sanctioned the Kremlin, are able to legally import Russian crude and refine it into oil products such as jet fuel and diesel.

They then export those products to the likes of the UK and the EU. “The issue with this loophole is that it increases the demand for Russian crude and enables higher sales in terms of volume and pushing up their price as well, which increases the funds sent to the Kremlin’s war chest,” said Isaac Levi, head of CREA’s Europe-Russia policy and energy analysis.

In a separate research paper, campaign group Global Witness estimated that throughout 2023, some 5.2 million barrels of refined petroleum products that had been produced from Russian crude oil were imported to the UK.

Most of the fuel imported – 4.6 million barrels – was jet fuel, which the group’s researchers suggested was used in one in 20 UK flights.

Lela Stanley, campaign lead for the Ukraine team at Global Witness, said while “the UK government falls over itself to decry the war in Ukraine, it remains complicit in the sale of Russian oil by keeping this refining loophole open”. “Every single pound spent on Russian oil helps Putin pay for his brutal war,” she added.

Both reports claimed the so-called loophole indirectly provided the Kremlin with more than £100m in tax revenues. They also said the bulk of the imports came mainly from three oil refineries in India – Jamnagar, Vadinar and New Mangalore, along with nine others in several countries including China.

Most of the estimates made by CREA and Global Witness were based on analysis of oil shipment figures from data and analytics firm Kpler, with pricing data based on Eurostat along with some other data sources.

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