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BBC unveils 'loophole' letting Russian oil reach UK

BBC unveils 'loophole' letting Russian oil reach UK Photo: Russian oil continues to flow to the UK (Getty Images)

Millions of barrels of fuel produced from Russian oil continue to be imported into the UK, despite sanctions imposed due to the war in Ukraine, according to BBC.

How oil gets to Britain

The UK banned the import of all oil and oil products originating from Russia. But two separate reports carried by the BBC say that refining rules allow products made from Russian crude oil to enter the UK.

The Center for Energy and Clean Air Research said this "refining loophole" means that countries such as India and China, which have not imposed sanctions on Russia, can legally import Russian oil and process it into petroleum products such as jet fuel and diesel.

They then export these products to countries such as 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 the head of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air Isaac Levi.

Oil imports finance the war against Ukraine

"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," the article says.

It is noted that most of the imported fuel was fuel for jet engines.

According to exclusive data from CREA, during the first 12 months of the Russian oil ban from December 2022, the UK's imported petroleum products were derived from Russian oil to the value of around £569m.

Both reports claim that the loophole indirectly provided the Kremlin with more than £100 million in tax revenue.

What they say in British government

Last January, trade statistics showed that the UK imported no fossil fuels from the country, while in 2021 gas, oil and coal imports from Russia to the UK amounted to £4.5 billion.

The representative of the government of Great Britain stated that since the sanctions came into effect, there has been no import of Russian oil and petroleum products to Great Britain.

According to him, in addition to providing evidence that the goods are not of Russian origin, importers must now indicate the country of the last shipment to ensure that oil from the Russian Federation is not diverted through other countries.

Strengthening of sanctions

Western sanctions led to the fact that half of Russian exports of oil and petroleum products went to China in 2023, while India's share increased to 40% in two years. Europe's share of oil exports from Russia fell tenfold to about 4-5% from about 40-45%.

Oil flows from Russia have faced problems after US sanctions against traders and shipping companies tightened. The signs came just weeks after the US Treasury Department imposed the most extensive sanctions against Russian oil traders and state shipping company Sovcomflot since the start of the war against Ukraine.

Recently, the USA introduced new sanctions for the transportation of Russian oil. Almost 20 tankers came under restrictions.