Refinery loopholes allowing Russian oil to enter the UK, according to reports


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Despite sanctions imposed due to the crisis in Ukraine, research indicates that the UK is still importing fuel made from Russian oil in the millions of barrels.

Products refined from Russian crude and supplied to the UK are made possible by a so-called "loophole" in the regulations of countries like India.

Critics argue that this undermines sanctions meant to restrict Russia's war financing, even though it is not illegal and does not infringe the UK's Russian oil restriction.

The British government has consistently disputed that any oil has been imported from Russia since 2022.

However, according to a representative, "rules of origin" set out by the international community state that crude oil is considered to have originated from the country that refines it for commercial purposes.

"Closing the gap"

A number of Western nations, including the United Kingdom, have banned the import of any oil or oil products produced in Russia in an effort to reduce the revenue that Moscow receives from fossil fuels.

However, according to two sources that were shared exclusively with the BBC, the criteria for refining allows products made from crude oil from Russia to reach the UK.

According to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), governments that have not imposed sanctions on Russia can lawfully purchase crude oil from the country and process it into refined goods like jet fuel and diesel. This "refining loophole" allows countries like India and China to do just that.

They subsequently ship those goods to places like the European Union and the United Kingdom.

According to Isaac Levi, head of CREA's Europe-Russia policy and energy analysis, "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," meaning that more money goes into the Kremlin's coffers.

'Putin uses oil to fund troops'

Global Witness, an advocacy organization, predicted in a separate study that the United Kingdom bought over 5.2 million barrels of refined petroleum products made from crude oil imported from Russia in 2023.

According to the group's research, one out of every twenty flights in the UK used jet fuel, which accounted for the majority of the fuel (4.6 million barrels).

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," stated Lela Stanley, campaign lead for the Ukraine team at Global Witness.

"Every single pound spent on Russian oil helps Putin pay for his brutal war," according to her.

The first twelve months of the Russian oil embargo, which began in December 2022, saw the United Kingdom buy oil products with a value of over £569 million, according to exclusive data supplied with the BBC by CREA.

According to both pieces of news, the so-called loophole sent over £100 million in tax money to the Kremlin.

They also mentioned that three oil refineries in India—Jamnagar, Vadinar, and New Mangalore—and nine others in various nations, including China, accounted for the majority of the imports.

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