Energy crisis fury as UK could use loopholes to buy Russian oil despite sanctions

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After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Government announced that it would “end all dependency on Russian coal and oil” by the end of the year. However, motorists in Britain may continue to use fuel that was sourced from Russia due to loopholes in sanctions that could line the pockets of Russian companies. Britain does not import a lot of fuel from Moscow directly, the lack of a domestic refining capacity has meant that imports of Russian fuel account for 20 percent of diesel used in the country every year.

This has led to concerns that even after the UK imposes a ban on Russian oil by the end of 2022, the Kremlin could continue to profit from Britain buying refined Russian fuel from third-party countries.

According to data from Refinitiv, Britain has purchased seven million barrels of Russian-origin diesel worth £800million since the brutal war in Ukraine began.

Since the oil imports have not been banned yet, British ports received five shipments in April, four in May and one last month.

Even as Western countries began phasing out Russian energy imports since the start of the war, India’s crude oil imports from Moscow have soared, with officials in the country encouraging refiners to buy as much discounted oil as possible.

Since then, these oil refineries have shipped diesel to the UK, with the most recent shipment arriving in April this year.

Aside from refined fuel, even Russian crude oil could be imported to the UK, after being mixed with oil supplies from other sources.

Experts like Javier Blas from Bloomberg have previously warned that companies could pump Britain with Russian oil by mixing it with 51 percent oil from other sources before it reaches the UK.

According to an example given by the Times, oil delivered from the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which is partly owned by US energy giant ExxonMobil, mainly comes from Kazakhstan.

However, the pipeline pumps oil delivered from the Russian energy company Stavropolneftegaz as rail freight data has revealed frequent shipments from the company’s oil fields to a pumping station at Kropotkin in southern Russia, where it mixed with Kazakh oil in the CPC pipeline as the oil flows through Russia.

This mixed oil is then delivered to the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, after which hundreds of thousands of barrels- per month are transported to Exxon’s Fawley refinery in Hampshire.

This mixed oil is then refined into diesel and other products to be sold in the UK, according to the Times, with an estimated 4.5 million barrels of Russian crude oil set to reach the UK through this route by the end of the year.

A government spokesman told the Times: “We remain fully confident in our supply of diesel, even though the UK already significantly reduced Russian imports of oil and oil products.

“The UK is a significant producer of both crude oil and petroleum products and holds oil stocks in the unlikely event of a major oil supply disruption.

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“We also benefit from a diverse range of reliable suppliers across the international market, without dependence on any single country.”

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said that the US energy giant supported efforts to bring Russia’s unprovoked attack to an end and was complying with all sanctions.

He said: “Since the invasion, there have been no deliveries of crude with a certificate of origin issued in Russia to our refinery at Fawley, and none are scheduled.”

However, ExxonMobil declined to comment on whether it would continue to accept oil of Russian origin, even if part of a mix certified overall as being from Kazakhstan.

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