A ship carrying Russian oil which was moored in the North West of England has moved after workers made it clear they would not unload the cargo.
The German-flagged Seacod was moored near Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, but pulled away heading north on Sunday.
On Friday, the Unite union said it informed Stanlow’s owner, Indian group Essar, that its members would not unload “Russian oil under any circumstances, regardless of the nationality of the ship delivering it”, echoing the measures taken by their counterparts at a gas terminal in Kent and the Netherlands.
A ban on Russian vessels introduced last week by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps does not cover cargo, allowing several vessels to dock since then despite transporting gas or oil that was ultimately purchased from controlled entities by the Kremlin. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham urged Shapps “to close this loophole immediately”.
It was unclear whether the oil had been unloaded before the unions realized it was Russian.
A government spokesman said: “It is mandatory for all ports and harbors to follow legislation prohibiting all vessels owned, operated, controlled, registered or flying the flag of Russia from entering UK ports. The government will support all ports in carrying out their responsibilities.
They added: “Ministers are exploring options to further reduce the already low amount of imports we receive from Russia and we continue to urge Europe to put plans in place to end its dependence on Russian gas. “
Essar Group said: “Essar remains deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and fully complies with the statutory framework put in place by the UK Government in relation to Russia-related entities.
“Earlier this week, we turned back two shipments of non-Russian crude oil that were believed to have been delivered to Russian-flagged tankers. We can confirm that a German-flagged vessel has been cleared to dock at the Tranmere Oil Terminal. by the Port Authority on Thursday, March 3.
“This ship set sail for Tranmere on February 22, before the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent introduction of British government sanctions. For several days we have been working urgently to find alternative sources of diesel while simultaneously ensuring the uninterrupted supply of fuel to the North West of England.
“Essar will continue to fully comply with and respond promptly to any changes the UK government may make to the statutory sanctions framework.”
Over the weekend, Shell defended continuing to buy crude oil from Russia, saying it was necessary to keep energy flowing through Europe. The fossil fuel company said it made the “difficult decision” to buy a shipment of oil from Russia on Friday after intense discussions with governments over potential energy security risks.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba publicly criticized Shell for the shipment. “Does Russian oil not smell [like] Ukrainian blood for you? he wrote on Twitter.
Shell said it would not have been able to source enough oil from other countries in time to call off the shipment, and would otherwise risk disrupting energy supplies across the continent.
“We did not take this decision lightly and understand the strength of the feelings surrounding it,” Shell said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We will continue to choose alternatives to Russian oil wherever possible, but this cannot happen overnight due to Russia’s importance in global supply.”
Shell announced last Monday that it would exit its joint ventures with Russian state energy company Gazprom, which are collectively worth around $3 billion. This means withdrawing from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which was to double Russian gas imports to Germany. Berlin recently terminated the project in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It followed similar moves the day before by BP, which said it would divest its 20% stake in Kremlin-owned oil company Rosneft.
Despite corporate efforts to reduce ties with Russia and sanctions on individuals, banks and some financial transactions, EU and UK governments have so far refrained from imposing restrictions. that would cause energy shortages within their own borders.
Shell said it would consult with aid agencies on how best to use profits from the “limited amount” of Russian oil it buys to help Ukrainians affected by the invasion.