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China Cracks Down Oil Smuggling Network

Chinese authorities have busted an oil smuggling group in the Fujian Province, in eastern China, that has since the start of the year smuggled fuel worth US$138 million, Xinhua reports.

The police arrested 99 suspects and confiscated 1,700 tons of smuggled fuel. The network, local border police reported, had been operating since June last year and involved four gangs operating nine midsized oil tankers to smuggle the fuel. The total amount of fuel smuggled to date is 180,000 tons.

The police seized seven vessels, ten oil trucks, and nine underground storage facilities that the smugglers used for the fuel. No details were provided as to where the fuel was smuggled from or to.

Smuggling is causing major headaches right now with regard to the fresh round of sanctions the UN imposed on North Korea. One of the targets of the sanctions was North Korean seafood, but, as Bloomberg reports, North Korean fishermen share the waters of the Yellow Sea with China fishermen, who often buy their produce fresh off the boat and then sell it on Chinese wholesale markets.

There are also reports that Russian companies are smuggling crude oil into the sanction-bound country, which earlier today launched another missile that flew over Japan. The sanctions have not yet come into effect and Russian oil traders are in a rush to make a quick buck by shipping oil to North Korea from the northern port of Vladivostok, U.S. government officials report.

China is North Korea’s largest trade partner and has been reluctant to cut off the country’s access to vital oil and fuel imports on concern about a humanitarian crisis that could spill over the border. It has, however, agreed to reduce its shipments of crude to North Korea, which was part of the sanction round, to come into effect from the beginning of next month.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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