the role of the Lukoil refinery in Priolo- Corriere.it

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The refinery in Priolo of Lukoil, the second Russian refining group, would be the loophole to circumvent the American sanctions that prohibit the United States from importing oil from Russia, after Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. The complaint is the result of an investigation by Wall Street Journalthat has reconstructed and traced the routes of the ships arriving in Syracuse to unload crude oil and load processed products fromSicilian refining, gasification and energy cogeneration plant of the Lukoil, which receives up to 93% of crude oil from Russia to produce gasoline which it then sends to the United States to groups like Exxon, without officially violating sanctions.

How? The vast majority of the Priolo-based refinery’s oil comes from Russia. In Sicily, Russian oil is refined, a process that makes it Italian, according to a consolidated practice that allows crude oil to change according to the place where it is refined.

Since the end of February, the United States has banned the import of Russian oil, as part of the sanctions launched to punish the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as those that personally affect the oligarchs and companies linked to President Putin. Even the European Union, after months of discussions, has decided to follow the example of the USA and the embargo on Russian oil will be released in the EU from 5 December. Until then, however, groups in Europe, including Italy, can continue to buy Russian crude without any problems. As is the Isab di Priolo. Unlike Russia’s largest Russian refining group Rosneft, which is directly controlled by the state, Lukoil was not sanctioned. And it maintains a presence in the US, where it distributes petroleum products to 11 states. It can do this because oil on its journey to America stops in Sicily, in the Lukoil refinery in Priolo, the second largest in Italy and the fifth in Europe.

Before the war in Ukraine, Priolo’s Isab imported oil from at least fifteen countries, and Russian oil weighed an average of 30%. Now, however, most of the crude oil comes from Russia because European banks stopped financing ISAB after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Up to 93% of its crude oil imports have come from Russia since April, the rest Kazakh. All oil comes from Russian ports, especially Primorsk

According to the video investigation of the Wsjwhich, among other things, appealed to satellite images to track maritime traffic, all the crude oil bought by Lukoil now comes from Russian ports. In particular, the inquiries show images of the Scf Baltica, an oil tanker belonging to the largest Russian shipping company, controlled by the state and sanctioned by the United States, docked in the Russian port of Primorsk while in late March it loads the crude oil. The tanker itself is sighted a few weeks later deliver the crude oil to the Lukoil refinery in Priolo. It is a crucial step that allows Lukoil to get Russian oil to the United States. This is possible because US sanctions provide for an exception, saving all products of Russian origin that have undergone a substantial transformation in another country.

Since March of this year the Priolo refinery exported nearly 5 million barrels of petroleum products to the United Statesof which 2.5 million barrels of petrol., enough to fill up 7 million cars.

The WSJ tracked oil tankers that delivered refined products from Sicily to 7 different buyers in 13 different locations, including the Exxon terminals near Houston and in New Jersey. If it is not always possible to know who is buying, customers include the oil giant Exxon Mobile and Litasko, the oil trading company controlled by Lukoil. Since March, the largest quantities of crude have been delivered to Exxon’s Bayton terminal near Huston, Texas. The Wsj he also found that most of the gasoline was instead delivered, also in Texas, to the Magellan terminal, an energy product distribution company. A spokesperson for the company, while admitting to having received the gasoline, claims not to be the buyer. And the data does not indicate it.

Another shipment, over 300,000 barrels of gasoline, was delivered to a terminal in New Jersey on behalf of Exxon. At the request of the newspaper, Exxon reiterated that it respects the sanctions and that all the products in question purchased are Italian certified. Lukoil, on the other hand, did not respond to multiple requests from the newspaper.

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If the oil that transits from Sicily represents only a fraction of the import of oil by the United States, the triangulation with Priolo demonstrates how difficult it is to trace the sanctioned oil and thus circumvent the sanctions.

The oil embargo from Russia, which will come into force in the EU on December 5, will close the hole in the sanctions network. Probably forcing the refinery to suspend operations, with heavy repercussions on Sicilian workers. But the new Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy, Adolfo Russo, is already dealing with the matter. A first measure has already taken place, with the letter from the Financial Security Committee of Mef, which certifies that the company is not subject to sanctions. It is a first significant step, in a few hours, which will be followed by others to create the best possible context for the company to overcome the decisive step of December 5 and continue its business, Urso said on Monday, specifying that all hypotheses I’m in the field. Also a possible intervention for the Priolo refinery through Sace.

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The article is in Italian

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