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News Item: UK dockers refuse Russian oil, accuse sanction loophole

British dockers on Saturday refused to unload Russian oil from a tanker, calling for the government to close a “loophole” in sanctions allowing foreign-flagged ships to deliver the fuel.

The Seacod is currently moored near the Stanlow refinery in northwest England, and unions say its cargo is not covered by a ban on Russian vessels because it is German flagged.

UK sanctions introduced over the invasion of Ukraine ban all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, registered or flagged from entering British ports.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said that “due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Unite workers at the (Stanlow) facility will under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel.”

“Unite urges the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to close this loophole immediately.”

The refinery’s operator, India’s Essar, said it was “deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine and is fully complying with the statutory framework implemented by the UK government with regard to Russia-related entities”.

The UK is less dependent on Russian energy than many other European nations.

The Unison union said two other Cyprus-flagged tankers carrying Russian gas, the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke, were turned away from the Isle of Grain in Kent, southeastern England, on Friday.

“While it looks like our intervention has been successful in seeing these ships turned away, a more fundamental problem remains,” Unison national officer for energy Matt Lay said in a statement.

“The government must act immediately to close the loophole that does not cover the origin of vessels’ cargo and stop Russian goods continuing to arrive in the UK under the cover of another country.”