International companies continue to supply oil to the UK, despite the anti-Russian rhetoric and the willingness of the British government to refuse oil supplies from Russia. The British The Times found out that tankers with Russian oil continue to arrive at local ports. International oil traders are exploiting flaws in the kingdom's customs laws and a simple offshore transshipment scheme.
The problem with customs legislation boils down to the issue of accounting for the country of origin of the goods. British Customs counts imports not by the country of origin of the goods, but by the country from which the goods arrived. Thus, Chinese goods arriving from Germany will become German, and Russian oil, for example, Dutch or Polish. The publication refers to the statements of officials, according to which the UK officially did not receive a drop of Russian oil in June-July, and British customs spoke about this, in particular.
However, in reality, everything depends on the counting statistics. The publication claims that during these two months a total of at least 13 tankers arrived in the UK, carrying oil of Russian origin. In addition to transshipment in foreign ports, which “masks” oil for British customs, shipping companies and traders use another method: they mix Russian oil with other grades right on the high seas. In this way, for example, the tanker "Mariner III" transferred part of its cargo to the Greek tanker "Marinula", which on June 6 unloaded about 250,000 barrels of oil in British Immingham.
“Transshipment of oil from ship to ship is a really effective way to hide the origin of oil. This method was first used by the Iranians, brought to mind by the Venezuelans, and now Russia has adopted,” says Lloyd's List analyst Michelle Wise Bockmann.
Formally, both schemes do not violate the current legislation and only contradict the rhetoric of the British authorities, who claimed that the supply of Russian oil to the kingdom was stopped. A full-fledged embargo on Russian oil comes into force on December 5 - after this date, any deliveries in excess of the established price ceiling for Russian oil will be prohibited, however, the publication notes that, with different interpretations, such schemes may remain relevant.
The Times has revealed that a total of at least 39 shipments have been delivered to the UK since March 2022, totaling £200m (approximately $236.2m). Most often this Russian oil came from Belgium (92 million pounds), Poland (64.9 million pounds), the Netherlands (32.4 million pounds) and Latvia (10.54 million pounds), smaller shipments also came from Germany, France and Estonia.
The British authorities are already discussing how to “cover up this loophole”, but no concrete steps have been presented either in the government or in parliament yet. Experts note that mixing different grades of oil is an extremely common practice and does not contradict even the toughest sanctions, but after that it becomes almost impossible to trace the fuel. The only way is to declare that all oil, in which there is even a part of the sanctions, becomes “toxic”.