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British Dock Workers Refusing to Unload Tankers Carrying Russian Natural Gas

Published: March 5, 2022
A dog walker passes near to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) importation terminal on the Isle of Grain, England. Reports have surfaced that British dock workers are refusing to unload tankers carrying Russian natural gas. (Image: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

British dock workers have refused to offload two Russian tankers carrying Russian natural gas in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Guardian reported. 

Dock workers at the Isle of Grain liquefied natural gas terminal in southeast England are insisting that they will not unload cargo from Russia.

The LNG tanker Boris Vilkitsky was reportedly scheduled to off load at the terminal on March 4 however was diverted along with a second vessel, the Fedor Litke. Both vessels are sailing under the Cyprus flag. 

Prior to the ships being diverted, Matt Lay, the national officer for energy at the union representing the Isle of Grain workers said, “The workers at the National Grid terminal don’t want to touch the cargo given the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine,” adding that, “These staff are determined to show their support for the Ukrainian people and uphold the sanctions imposed against Russia.”

On March 1, the UK government banned vessels with any Russian connection from docking in the UK. The ban is part of a larger package of responses to Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine. 

On Friday, a Department of Transport spokesperson told Business Insider that the ban applies to vessels that are “owned, operated or managed by Russian entities. Cargoes from Russia could be processed if they arrive on vessels from other nations.”

The Isle of Grain terminal is operated by National Grid, the largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility in Europe and handles some 20 percent of the UK’s LNG delivery capacity. 

A National Grid spokesperson told the BBC, “In line with government policy, we do not expect any Russian-linked ships to dock at Grain.”

The UK is expected to spend £6.3 million per day on Russian natural gas this year, according to the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. The unit warned that the funds derived from the trade could be used to fund Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a press release on its website. 

Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, Head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said, “Although not at the same level of some other European countries, the UK has been spending billions of pounds on Russian gas that could now be being used to fund Putin’s war in Ukraine,” adding that, “This is another reason why the UK needs to break its dependency on gas and insulating our homes, deploying electric heat pumps and shifting from gas power stations to renewables is the way to do it.”