Photo: Greenpeace climbers block tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to UK © Fionn Guilfoyle Greenpeace

UK activists stop Russian oil tanker from docking, calling on govt to ‘stop funding Putin’s war in Ukraine’

Environmental activists in the UK have blocked a Russian oil tanker from docking in Essex, England, calling on the government to “get off Russian oil and gas.”

Last night, Greenpeace activists stopped a tanker carrying 33,000 tons of Russian diesel from docking in Essex, saying “if the UK govt won’t say no to funding Putin’s war on Ukraine, then we’ll do it for them.”

Greenpeace climbers block tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to UK © Fionn Guilfoyle Greenpeace
Greenpeace climbers block tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to UK © Fionn Guilfoyle Greenpeace

According to a statement from Greenpeace, 12 Greenpeace volunteers eluded security and reached the Andromeda tanker’s intended berth at Navigator Terminals by boat late last night and climbed onto it, forcing the tanker to turn around. In the early hours of this morning, police began making arrests.

However, several protesters remain in place, with one activist on the offloading pipes, another hanging off the jetty, and others occupying the jetty preventing the tanker from docking. They have unfurled a banner reading “OIL FUELS WAR”.

Campaigners are calling on the UK government to stop funding Putin and Russia’s war in the Ukraine and end our fossil fuel dependence. Greenpeace research published at the end of April showed the UK has imported nearly two million barrels of Russian oil, worth an estimated £220 million, since the start of the war and more has arrived since then.

Georgia Whitaker, oil and gas campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “The UK’s attachment to fossil fuels has backfired in the worst way possible – we’re funding a war, our energy bills and fuel costs are sky-high, and we’re driving the climate crisis. It has to stop.

“Putin invaded Ukraine nearly three months ago, and yet fossil fuel money from the UK is still funding his war chest. Ministers have kicked a ban on Russian oil imports to the end of the year despite strong public support for it.”

The UK government in early March 2022 banned Russian ships from its ports and, days later, also decided to phase out Russian oil imports in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine and in an effort to reduce and end the reliance on Russian fossil fuels. However, Greenpeace claims that, despite the ban, Russian fossil fuels are still arriving via ships registered in other countries.

The Andromeda tanker travels under a Greek flag, but is carrying fuels from the Russian port of Primorsk, supplied by the LLC KINEF refinery while the company buying the fuel is energy and commodities trader, Vitol, Greenpeace said.

EU has also banned Russian vessels from accessing EU ports and moved to phase out all Russian oil imports “in orderly fashion.”

It is worth reminding that Shell came under severe criticism in early March after buying a cargo of Russian oil, a decision which was made with the security of supplies in mind and guided by the need to disentangle society from Russian energy. However, following a public backlash, Shell apologised and said it would commit profits from the oil to a dedicated fund.

Greenpeace climbers block tanker carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel to UK © Saf Suleyman / Greenpeace

In addition to closing the loophole in government sanctions that allows Russian fossil fuels to continue entering the UK, Greenpeace is also calling for the government to end the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels altogether, to meet the climate change obligations under the Paris Agreement, stopping the flow of money to Vladamir Putin and also reducing soaring energy bills at the same time.

The protest in the UK comes only weeks after a similar protest took place in Norway where activists blocked the oil tanker Ust Luga, preventing it from offloading Russian oil into the port. The activists called on the Norwegian government to ban the import of Russian fossil fuels and demanded that Esso cancels its contracts to buy fossil fuels from Russia during this time of war in Ukraine.

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