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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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China Just Doubled Oil Shipments To North Korea

After the recent visits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to China, Beijing has almost doubled the volume of crude oil pipeline shipments to North Korea, South Korea’s newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported on Thursday, citing a source in Beijing.

The surge in Chinese shipments to North Korea is raising additional concerns that China could undermine the international sanctions against Kim’s regime.

Pipeline volumes of between 30,000 tons to 40,000 tons are enough in the summer to keep the pipeline from China to North Korea unclogged, while this volume is around 80,000 tons in the winter, Chosun Ilbo’s source said. Although it’s summer, China has recently increased the oil flow to the winter levels, the source told the South Korean outlet.

Under the latest United Nations Security Council sanctions regarding oil sales to North Korea from December 2017, North Korea is allowed to import a maximum aggregate amount of 500,000 barrels of all refined oil products for 12 months beginning on January 1, 2018. The sanctions also introduced a limit of 4 million barrels—or 525,000 tons—per a twelve-month period as of 22 December 2017 for the supply, sale, or transfer of crude oil to North Korea.

If China sends 80,000 tons of oil to North Korea every month, this volume already brings the amount to 960,000 tons a year—above the 525,000 tons limit for a 12-month period in the sanctions, Chosun Ilbo argues.

Citing a confidential U.S. report to the UN sanctions committee, the AFP reported last week that the United States asked the UN Security Council to impose an immediate stop to all shipments of refined oil products to North Korea, after finding that Kim Jong-un’s regime had vastly exceeded the UN-restricted quota for oil product imports.

According to the U.S. report to the UN, North Korea received at least 759,793 barrels of oil products between January 1 and May 30, well above the 500,000-barrel annual quota. The supplies have been made via ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers that have called in port at least 89 times, the United States says. The United States also accused China and Russia for keeping oil sales to North Korea.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • John Brown on July 19 2018 said:
    Once again proof that China doesn't not want NK to denuclearize. That it is cheating on its commitments, and that it wants NK to continue to distract the USA while it continues its belligerence and attempts to gain hegemony in the Pacific. The USA needs to realize that China is double dealing and cannot be trusted. The USA should engage even stronger on the trade front and just ban all imports from China. We might as well deal with China now before its too late.
  • Mamdouh G Salameh on July 19 2018 said:
    If it is proven beyond any shadow of doubt that China has almost doubled the volume of crude oil pipeline shipments to North Korea permitted under Security Council sanctions, then it is merely returning the compliment to the United States against US tariffs against it.

    The United States has been imposing sanctions left and right against countries with which it doesn’t see eye to eye and also breaking international trade agreements as well the nuclear agreement with Iran. If the alleged surge in Chinese shipments to North Korea is raising additional concerns that China could undermine the international sanctions against Kim’s regime, then China could argue that US tariffs against it and against the European Union (EU), Canada, Japan, Mexico and others are also breaking the rules of the WTO and global trade.

    Still I have noted some mistakes in the calculations of the Chinese deliveries of crude oil and refined products. For clarification, a ton of crude oil is equivalent to 7.33 barrels.

    The article says that under the latest United Nations Security Council sanctions regarding oil sales to North Korea from December 2017, North Korea is allowed to import a maximum aggregate amount of 500,000 barrels of all refined oil products for 12 months beginning on January 1, 2018. The sanctions also introduced a limit of 4 million barrels (equivalent to 545,703 tons and not 525,000 tons as mentioned in the article) per a twelve-month period as of 22 December 2017.

    If China sends 80,000 tons of oil to North Korea every month, this volume already brings the amount to 960,000 tons a year—above the 525,000 tons limit (the correct limit is 545,703 and not 525,000 ) or a 12-month period in the sanctions. But there is no proof whatsoever that China has been shipping 80,000 tons of crude oil monthly to North Korea. That claim is based on “if” and not on reality and therefore the total of 960,000 tons is fictional.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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