Tanker carrying Russian oil docks in Tranmere after restriction loophole

Credit: Liverpool Echo

A tanker carrying Russian oil has docked at a Merseyside terminal due to a loophole in government sanctions.

Any Russian owned, chartered or operated ships have been blocked from entering UK ports as part of sweeping restrictions against President Vladimir Putin's regime and its invasion of Ukraine.

But, the Department for Transport (DfT), said the ban would not extend to Russian cargo carried on vessels from other nations.

As a result the Seacod, which sails under a German flag but collected oil in the Russian port of Primorsk, where 30% of Russian oil exports are loaded onto ships, was allowed to dock at Tranmere.

The Seacod's cargo is destined for the Stanslow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, owned by Essar Oil (UK) Ltd.

The Seacod, sails under a German flag but collected the oil in the Russian port of Primorsk. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Councillor Jan Williamson, leader of Wirral Council, expressed concern about the vessel's arrival on Twitter, saying "we are looking into this as a matter of urgency."

She later posted: "I have had confirmation that this is a German tanker carrying crude oil, likely for Stanlow.

"This is happening across the country and would require Gov restrictions to put a stop to it."

The Seacod left Primorsk on 22 February and arrived in Tranmere on 3 March at around 11.36am.

A spokesman for the firm said: "We support and are fully complying with the statutory framework implemented by the UK government with regards to Russia-related entities.

"We can confirm that a vessel has been approved to berth at Tranmere Oil Terminal by the Port Authority."

Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: "My understanding is that Essar are lawfully entitled to take this tanker as the current ban relates to Russian ships not their cargo.

"That said, I think everyone who wants to support the people of Ukraine and see the strictest sanctions on Russia possible will agree that the distinction being made between a ban on ships but not their cargo is one that is not morally defensible and urgently needs Government action.

"It is all too easy to see how Russian imports will be able to continue into this country by sailing in under the flags of ships from other countries and I do not believe the public will accept that either.

"I have made my views clear to Essar and have asked them to confirm that they will not take any disciplinary action against employees who refuse to handle this cargo as a matter of conscience.”

Other ships carrying liquefied Russian gas arrived in the UK on Thursday 3 March, but one, the Greek-owned Boris Vilkitskiy, was forced to divert from a Thames Valley port after dockers in the Unison trade union refused to unload Russian cargo.