Tankers turned away as UK workers refuse to handle Russian fuel

UK workers are refusing to unload Russian oil from a tanker because of the invasion of Ukraine.

The German-flagged Seacod, which set sail before ministers banned Russian vessels docking in the UK, is moored at Birkenhead Docks near the Stanlow oil refinery.

But Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has told operators Essar its members “will under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel which delivers it”.

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The government ban does not cover cargo, Unite has said, meaning the German-flagged vessel is not covered by new sanctions.


A government spokesperson said: “It is mandatory for all ports and harbours to follow legislation banning all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, registered or flagged from entering British ports.

“Ministers are exploring options to further reduce the already small amount of imports we do get from Russia and we continue to urge Europe to put in place plans to end their dependence in Russian gas.”

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Essar said it “remains 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.

It said: “Earlier this week, we turned away two cargos of non-Russian origin crude oil which would have been delivered in Russian-flagged tankers.

“We can confirm that a German-flagged vessel was approved to berth at Tranmere Oil Terminal by the Port Authority on Thursday March 3.

“For a number of days, we have been working urgently to find alternative sources of diesel while simultaneously ensuring uninterrupted supply of fuel to the North West of England.”

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Two other ships, the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke, carrying up to 12 days’ supply of Russian liquid gas, which were due to dock in Kent this weekend, have also been turned away from the UK.

Workers at the National Grid Grain LNG terminal, east of London, refused to deal with it, Unison said.

On Saturday morning, the Boris Vilkitsky was in the Bay of Biscay and the Fedor Litke in the North Sea, vesselfinder.com said.

The union’s head of energy Matt Lay said it will be “a relief to the workers at the terminal”, but urged ministers to act to close the cargo loophole.

He said: “With so many ships having flags of convenience this is a hollow gesture. The government must act immediately to stop Russian goods continuing to arrive in the UK under the cover of another country.”