22 Nov 2022 10:27 p.m
According to a report in the British newspaper The Sunday Times, Great Britain can continue to import Russian oil despite sanctions imposed on it. The British companies can therefore easily circumvent the country’s punitive measures against Moscow using a loophole.
The UK has received at least 39 shipments of Russian oil since February, despite the shipments being registered as imports from other countries. That comes from a report in the British newspaper The Sunday Times based on tanker traffic data and trade statistics.
The Russian-origin oil shipments, worth around £200 million (around US$236 million), arrived in UK ports after ship-to-ship transhipments, the report said. This is therefore a widespread practice in which large tankers, which cannot dock due to their size, transfer their cargo to smaller ships.
According to the findings of Sunday Times this practice gives shipping companies the opportunity to register their cargo without declaring the actual origin of the shipment. Instead, the country of loading is named as the place of origin of the delivery. In this way, for example, a consignment of goods manufactured in Russia can be registered as originating in Germany if it is transported by a German company to a British port.
The paper has been able to trace dozens of shipments of Russian oil by ship that have arrived in British ports since March and have been recorded as coming from Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, France and other countries. At least 13 of these shipments are said to have arrived in June and July. However, official figures from the UK Statistics Office (ONS) on oil imports showed that the country had received no oil from Russia during those months.
According to shipping experts, ship-to-ship transfers have recently become more common because Western countries targeted Russian oil exports this year as part of their sanctions against Moscow for its military operations in Ukraine. Michelle Wiese Bockmann, energy and shipping analyst at the shipping journal Lloyd’s List, explained the Sunday Times:
“Ship-to-ship transhipment has become a really useful way to disguise the destination and origin of the cargo. The Iranians started it, the Venezuelans perfected it, the Russians picked it up and continued.”
According to the US company Refinitiv, which monitors the ship-to-ship transfer, there have been around 267 such transfers of Russian oil worldwide since March.
A British embargo on imports of Russian oil by sea is due to come into effect on December 5th. However, even after that date, shipping experts say it will still be difficult for the UK to actually prevent Russian oil from arriving in the country given the registration gap and ship-to-ship transfer practices.
more on the subject – Bloomberg: Record amounts of Russian oil headed to Asia