Merseyside dockers refuse to unload Russian oil bound for Stanlow refinery

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Crude oil set for Stanlow first arrives at the company’s Tranmere Oil Terminal by tanker.

Merseyside dock workers have refused to unload Russian oil bound for the Stanlow refinery at Ellesmere Port as the war with Ukraine intensifies.

Workers’ union Unite have told Stanlow owners Essar that its members “will under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel.”

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The UK Government has banned all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, registered or flagged from entering British ports, but the restriction does not cover the origin of cargo.

“Companies are free to get around the rules by hiring ships from other countries to import Russian goods,” explains Matt Lay, head of energy at trade union UNISON.

“The government should act right away if these sanctions are to be fit for purpose.”

Oil tankers unload at the Essar Oil Tranmere Terminal on the River Mersey - the oil is then piped 15 miles to Stanlow refinery. Photo: Christopher FurlongOil tankers unload at the Essar Oil Tranmere Terminal on the River Mersey - the oil is then piped 15 miles to Stanlow refinery. Photo: Christopher Furlong
Oil tankers unload at the Essar Oil Tranmere Terminal on the River Mersey - the oil is then piped 15 miles to Stanlow refinery. Photo: Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

Unite have joined calls for the loophole to be closed after revealing the case of the Seacod tanker sailing under a German flag carrying Russian oil bound for Stanlow.

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In a statement, Essar said the Seacod had set sail for their Tranmere Oil Terminal on 22 February, before the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent introduction of UK Government sanctions.

All of the crude oil bound for Stanlow arrives at Tranmere by tanker and is then piped 15 miles downstream in the Mersey Estuary to the Ellesmere Port refinery.

Essar Oil’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere port. Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesEssar Oil’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere port. Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Essar Oil’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere port. Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

But dockers will not touch the cargo.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has contacted Essar who operate the Stanlow oil refinery to inform the company that due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Unite workers at the facility will under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel.”

A spokesperson for the refinery said: “Essar remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine and is fully complying with the statutory framework implemented by the UK government with regards to Russia-related entities.

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

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