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Artwork from the cover of Project Sandstone cover

Project Sandstone Special Report: Black Gold: Exposing North Korea's Oil Procurement Networks

James Byrne, Joseph Byrne, Lucas Kuo and Lauren Sung
Other Publications, 22 March 2021
Project Sandstone, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, North Korea, Global Security Issues, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
A joint report between Project Sandstone and C4ADS exposes the networks facilitating North Korea's oil-smuggling activities.


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This report has been prepared by the authors specifically for public information purposes (the Permitted Purpose). While all reasonable care has been taken by the authors to ensure the accuracy of this report, the material within it (the Information) has been obtained primarily from open sources, and the authors make no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the Information.

You should not use, reproduce, or rely on the Information for any purpose other than the Permitted Purpose. Any reliance you place on the Information is strictly at your own risk. If you intend to use the Information for any other purpose (including, without limitation, to commence legal proceedings, take steps or decline to take steps, or otherwise deal with any named person or entity), you must first undertake and rely on your own independent research to verify the Information.

To the fullest extent permitted by law, the authors shall not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature whether foreseeable or unforeseeable (including, without limitation, in defamation) arising from or in connection with the reproduction, reliance on, or use of any of the Information by any third party.

The identification of individuals, companies, organizations, or entities within this report does not imply they have violated the laws of any relevant jurisdiction, or any international laws or sanctions, unless clearly stated.

It should be noted that the entities and networks discussed herein are highly adaptive and versatile. Throughout the course of this research the authors observed multiple changes to the corporate structures behind the vessels at the center of this investigation as well as changes regarding other details relating to the companies identified in the report. The authors have taken great care to archive, catalogue and report these changes as they occurred, however these networks remain fluid and it is the expectation of the authors that further changes will continue to be observed after the publication of this report. As such, the information presented in this research is to be considered valid and accurate, according to the sources cited, as of 8 March 2021. The authors bear no responsibility for changes to the information present within the report that occur after this date. Additionally, the authors bear no responsibility for changes to the information present in the report that occurred prior to this date of completion, but were not updated on commercial databases--or any other sources cited herein--until after this date.
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James Byrne
Senior Research Fellow

James Byrne is a Senior Research Fellow at RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme.

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Joe Byrne
Research Analyst

Joe Byrne is a Research Analyst at RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Team.

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