Tanker with Russian oil cargo in Liverpool Bay with Royal Navy frigate in area

This story was reporting on a live event and was updated as it developed and more information came to light. It will no longer be updated and if there are any further developments, a new article will be published.

The German flagged ship ‘Seacod’ understood to be carrying a cargo of Russian crude oil from the port of Primorsk, Leningrad Oblast, has arrived in Liverpool Bay, en route to Tranmere Oil Terminal.

The Seacod left Primorsk for Tranmere Oil Terminal on 22 February, before Vladimir Putin sent the Russian army to invade Ukraine.

The tanker was due to arrive at Tranmere at 12:00UTC, but has been at anchor in Liverpool Baysince this afternoon. The Royal Navy Frigate HMS Argyll (F231) was also in Liverpool Bay as Seacod was on its approach, apparently on the course that the Seacod would take to berth at Tranmere Oil Terminal.

It is now not thought that HMS Argyll was in that position in response to the Seacod. HMS Argyll is currently moored at the Pier Head.

Image: Seacod = circled orange vessel, HMS Argyll = circled red vessel, Seacod presumed route marked in red.

On 28 February, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps wrote to all UK ports asking them not to provide access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered, or operated vessels. However, there was some ambiguity regarding Russian cargoes.

The decision was made as many Russian oil ships were docked at various ports across the UK waiting to be offloaded.

Yesterday, this ban was reinforced when a law was passed involving a total ban on all ships with any Russian connection, meaning that the Seacod with its Russian cargo of oil should now be refused at the Essar owned Tranmere Oil Terminal.

The Tranmere Oil Terminal is owned by Essar Energy and operated by Essar Oil UK. On 1 March, birkenhead.news contacted Essar to ask for a statement on the matter, but at the time of publication of this article has yet to receive a response.

Nine million tonnes of crude oil arrives at Tranmere Oil Terminal each year.

There are two berths (Tranmere North and South) used to unload the oil to storage tanks within the terminal, after which it is pumped 15 miles by pipeline to the Stanlow refinery (also owned and operated by Essar.)

There are also monthly import cargoes of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD). The Tranmere Oil Terminal handles a total of 140 ships each year.

Primorsk is the site of the largest Baltic Sea oil terminal. In 2006, it was Russia’s largest crude oil port, exporting 5,863,000 metric tons of crude oil.

Russian oil makes up about 8% of global supply and the cost of gas and crude oil surged today, increasing the chance of further price rises at UK forecourts and higher household energy bills.

The global benchmark for oil prices, ‘Brent crude’ hit $113 a barrel, its highest level since June 2014.

Full text of Transport Secretary Grant Schapps’ 28 February letter:

Russia’s assault on Ukraine is an unprovoked, premeditated attack against a sovereign democratic state. The UK government has been clear there would be massive consequences and a severe cost for any Russian military incursion into Ukraine, and, in coordination with our international allies and partners, we are developing an unprecedented package of further sanctions.

The maritime sector is fundamental to international trade and we must play our part in restricting Russia’s economic interests and holding the Russian government to account.

In these circumstances the Department for Transport does not consider it appropriate for Russian vessels to continue to enter UK ports. From this point onwards, UK ports are asked not to provide access to any ship which they have reason to believe is:

  • Owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by any person connected with Russia
  • Owned, controlled, chartered or operated by Designated Persons
  • Flying the Russian flag
  • Registered in Russia.

We will seek to support UK ports in identifying Russian ships within scope of the above, and will communicate directly with relevant ports when we identify ships ‘bound for UK ports who fall within scope of the above.

Further detailed sanctions against Russian shipping are being developed and further details will be shared very shortly.

Yours Sincerely,

Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

Grant Schapps’ letter to ports
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Image: Vesselfinder

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