Despite Britain having led the West in imposing sanctions on Russia, including a ban on imports of Russian oil to cut off the Kremlin‘s source of funds, the UK is importing Russian oil via India, it has emerged. The Daily Telegraph has reported that energy buyers supplying the UK including BP and Shell have increased their imports from Indian private crude oil refineries.
According to Kpler data analysed by climate advocacy group Global Witness, the UK has imported 29 shipments, or 10m barrels, of diesel and other refined products from the Indian private refineries since the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, compared to seven shipments, or 4m barrels, during 2021. The data lists the energy buyers as including Aramco, Shell, BP and PetroChina.
Crude oil from Russia is likely to form part of diesel exported from India to the UK. “The UK’s oil embargo came into effect on December 5 – but the refining loophole means Russian origin oil can still come to UK,” explained Louis Wilson, Russian fossil fuel lead for Global Witness. “Nearly a year after invasion of Ukraine, Russian oil still flowing to Europe is failure of policy making and prolonging the war in Ukraine.”
He told TOI there is nothing illegal about it and the “loophole is very deep in the UK embargo text.” Whilst there is a UK ban on imports of crude oil from Russia, if India is refining oil making it Indian diesel it is no longer considered Russian oil so is legal to import even if every molecule came from Russia, he said.
A spokesperson for Shell said: “Shell made its decision to withdraw from all Russian hydrocarbons with conviction. We are delivering on this, in line with guidance from European governments, including the UK, and in full compliance with sanctions, applicable laws and regulations. Under continued guidance from such governments and through our tight internal controls, including strict no Russian-origin product contract clauses with suppliers, we are seeking to avoid fuels that may contain products refined in Russia.”