21st August 2023, London - Billboards unveiled in 10 locations across London today reveal that an estimated 1 in 20 UK flights are still running on Russian oil, exposing the British government’s continued support for the Kremlin’s most important export.
The billboards, which feature Russian President Vladimir Putin as a pilot flanked by stewards Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt, expose the extent to which the UK has failed to flush Russian oil out of its energy mix.
The UK government announced an embargo on Russian oil imports in March 2022, and the rules came into effect in December of the same year. But a major loophole means that firms are free to import fuels made from Russian oil, providing they have been refined elsewhere.
This loophole has encouraged refineries in countries like India and Turkey to increase their imports of Russian oil, while increasing their exports of fuel to Western countries, including the UK.
Global Witness analysis shows that a significant portion of the UK’s jet fuel is being supplied via this loophole. The equivalent to 1 in 20 UK flights runs on Russian-origin fuel.
Data from Kpler analysed by Global Witness shows that the UK imported a significant quantity of jet fuel from three Indian refineries. Around 40% of the feedstock for these refineries comes from Russia, which is mixed with crude from elsewhere and then refined into oil products, including jet fuel.
Taking those figures and comparing them with the UK’s average annual jet-fuel consumption, based on ONS statistics averaged over 10 years - Global Witness is able to estimate that the equivalent of 1 in 20 UK flights flew on Russian-origin fuel in the first six months of 2023.
Travellers are likely unaware that many UK flights are running on some Russian-origin fuel. Regardless, the UK’s demand for refined Russian oil is helping to prop up the Kremlin’s exports, and its revenues.
The billboards form part of a Global Witness campaign to close the refining loophole and to send a message to the UK government that any involvement in the trade of Russian oil is helping fund the war in Ukraine.
Mai Rosner, Ukraine Project Lead at Global Witness, said:
“Every drop of Russian oil means more bloodshed in in Ukraine. It is completely hypocritical for the British government to denounce the war in Ukraine and continue to allow the trade of Russian oil.
“The UK should close this loophole and ban the import of fuel from oil refineries that have bought Russian crude oil within the past six months. This would incentivize those refineries to drop their Russian suppliers, while signalling to other companies looking to capitalize on cheap Russian oil that their products are not welcome in the UK.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the dangers of a global energy system that benefits authoritarian regimes. The UK, along with America and Europe, needs to urgently end its fossil fuel dependency that is destroying the planet, making consumers poorer, and fuelling conflict. “
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Billboards can be found at the following locations:
- A13 London City approach
- Heathrow Gateway, M25 Southbound SL0 9HL
- Ealing Road, Alperton, HA0 4QB
- London City Approach, Barking, IG11 7TS
- Crooked Billet roundabout, Walthamstow, E4 8SS
- Lea Bridge, Leyton, E10 7QL
- Tooting Approach, Mitcham, CR4 2JH
A Digivan displaying the billboards will be driving in and around London and will be at Downing Street from 16:00 locations on Monday 21 August:
Downing Street & Westminster from 16:00
For more information please contact Lucy Hall on 07908 481895 or [email protected]