Sino-NK Oil Supplies Keep on Flowing

[Daily NK Special Investigation]
Daily NK Special Investigation  |  2014-05-24 02:00

Last month, Daily NK sent a team to look at issues in the border region between China and North Korea. The research included in-depth interviews with 12 North Korean visitors. Here, we introduce the first in a series of reports on findings from the area.

Daily NK has confirmed that China is currently supplying oil to North Korea through a pipeline running between the two. Though there have been cases where Beijing has suspended such shipments in response to North Korean intransigence, particularly over nuclear issues, but this has not happened recently.

On April 10th, Daily NK visited an oil storage and pipeline facility in Dandong. There, our team interviewed Chinese Ministry of Public Security officials guarding the facility, which is owned by a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC.

When asked about oil assistance to North Korea, one of the officers acknowledged, We are continuously supplying oil (to North Korea), but cannot say how much we send each month or how much remains as of now.

Oil deliveries to be transferred to North Korea are received at this facility from a larger nearby facility, Basan, and then are shipped to a partner storage facility at Baekma in Pihyun Couunty, North Pyongan Province. The pipeline is 11km long.

According to sources, these deliveries are not recorded in Chinese customs data, or in foreign trade statistics. The oil from the pipeline is rather characterized as de facto aid, either in the form of low interest loans or free of charge.

This is why, on April 24th, Korean agency KOTRA released a figure of zero for oil exports from China to North Korea for the first quarter of 2014, basing it on Chinese customs data. The data says zero for commercial transfers; however, supplies in the form of aid and assistance may not have stopped at all.

In this regard, a diplomatic source said, China has the ability to stop the oil supplies whenever they want, but they've never done so for a long period of time. He went on, Above all, China places as much importance on security as North Korea places on nuclearization, and it doesnt want to see disorder in the North Korean regime. This explains why China keeps providing this assistance.

Meanwhile, Chinese trade statistics show that 520,000 tons of oil was exported to North Korea every year from 2009 to 2012. Mostly small North Korean tankers shipped this oil.

* This article was made possible by support from the Korea Press Foundation. 

 
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