UK imports Russian oil worth £220m since Ukraine war began

·3 min read
Britain plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. Photo: Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Britain plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. Photo: Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Eight tankers carrying £220m ($276.2m) worth of Russian oil have arrived in Britain since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February, according to new analysis released on Wednesday.

Greenpeace, which set up an automated tracker of supertankers bringing in Russian fossil fuels, counted 1.9 million barrels of oil imports, or 257,000 tonnes, most of which was diesel.

While the government has banned Russian owned or operated ships from docking in UK ports, vessels flying other flags are allowed to import fossil fuels from Russia.

The imports kept arriving in the country, despite the UK committing to phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of this year, with liquid natural gas imports being phased out soon after. The deadline is designed to allow time to adjust supply chains and minimise disruption.

A spokesperson for the government said that the UK "has no issues" with oil supply, adding that "unlike Europe", Britain is not dependent on Russian energy imports.

Russia supplies 18% of Britain's diesel, used mainly in cars and heavy transport, as well as farming and fishing vehicles. Britain also gets diesel from Netherlands, USA and Saudi Arabia, as well as domestically, and is working with other oil producing countries to keep supplies flowing in place of Russia's.

The campaigning group claims the ban on Russian ships is "tokenistic", since Russian crude was still able to be imported legally into the country.

Read more: European stock markets fall as Russia cuts gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

Georgia Whitaker, oil and gas campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "The UK government is no stranger to hypocrisy but pledging 'unwavering support' to Ukraine while shipping in almost two million barrels of Russian oil is utterly disingenuous, even by Boris Johnson’s standards.

"This war has cost at least 2,000 civilian lives so far. That’s 2,000 innocent deaths largely funded by fossil fuels.

"Despite the mounting death toll, the UK government has given itself until the end of the year to stop importing Russia’s bloody oil.

"Sanctions don’t work until they’re implemented and eight more months of oil and gas imports is eight months too many.

Six of the shipments to the UK have come from the Russian port of Primorsk, with the remaining two from Tuapse and Vysotsk, Greenpeace's said. Oil has been imported into five ports across the UK including Merseyside, Essex, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire.

The campaigning group has called for an "explicit and immediate ban" on all Russian fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, oil prices jumped on Wednesday following Russia's move to cut gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after Putin's demands for ruble payments from "unfriendly countries".

Brent oil (BZ=F) rose 0.8% to $105.82 a barrel. US light crude (CL=F) was up 0.6% to $102.27 at the time of writing.

Watch: Russia's Gazprom cuts gas to Poland, Bulgaria

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