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North Korea could have oil storage capacity of up to 1.5 million tons or almost 11 million barrels—an amount that could last it a full year if the country gets cut off from external oil suppliers. That is according to think tank Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, based on CIA estimates of North Korea's storage capacity as well as satellite images.
The pariah of the international community, North Korea has a restriction on the amount of oil products it can receive from abroad, and this restriction stands at 500,000 barrels a year. However, North Korea may have been boosting its underground storage capacity, according to the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.
"This would be the equivalent of about one year's worth of our estimates of domestic oil products produced in the DPRK's refineries plus our estimates of oil products imports in recent years combined," the think-tank noted.
North Korea has been under international sanctions since 2017 when it decided to pursue an ambition to become a nuclear power. However, it continues to receive oil from China and Russia legally but also, in some cases, illicitly.
In July, more than 40 UN members, including the United States and Japan, told the UN that North Korea had breached the limit for oil imports using illegal ship-to-ship transfers. According to these members, the country had taken in some 1.6 million barrels of oil products between January and May through 56 ship-to-ship transfers at sea.
These UN members called on the organization to enforce the oil import restrictions and penalize North Korea for the illicit imports, but with China and Russia disputing previous requests for penalty, chances are this request will also fail to achieve its goal.
All UN members who have dealings with North Korea are required to report their oil shipments to the sanctioned country.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,