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Russian oil exports: Mapping out the future

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MOSCOW : With talk regarding a potential ban on Russian energy imports reignited in the EU, after the recent developments, it’s worth taking a look on Russia’s crude oil export destinations. In a recent report, shipbroker Banchero Costa noted that “2021 was overall another negative year for global crude oil trade. Total loadings in the 12 months of 2021 were down -2.3% y-o-y to 1,989 million tonnes, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This followed a -6.1% y-o-y decline in global shipments in 2020, a -1.2% y-o-y decline in 2019 and a -0.6% y-o-y decline in 2018. There has been something of a rebound in Jan-Feb 2022, but it just reflects the depth of the contraction seen at this time last year, at the peak of the Covid lockdowns”.

According to the shipbroker, “in Jan-Feb 2022, global crude loading reached 345.4 mln tonnes, +10.5% yo-y from 312.6 mln tonnes in Jan-Feb 2021, but still well below the 356.7 mln tonnes loaded in Jan-Feb 2020. Russia is the second largest seaborne exporter of crude oil in the world after Saudi Arabia, accounting for 10.7% of global shipments in 2021. In the 12 months of 2019, Russian seaborne crude oil exports reached a peak of 225.1 mln tonnes (excluding domestic cabotage). In 2020, however, limited global demand due to the pandemic affected shipments. In the 12 months of 2020, Russia managed to ship just 195.9 mln tonnes of crude oil (excluding domestic cabotage), down -15.1% year-on-year. This was a worse performance than most of its competitors. Saudi Arabia’s exports declined by just -3.2% y-o-y in 2020, those from the rest of the Arabian Gulf by -9.2%. The main reason for this discrepancy is the different mix of clients”.

Banchero Costa added that “Russia is very dependant on the West European market, which was particularly hit by the pandemic. Back in 2019, the European Union was the destination for 61% of Russia’s seaborne crude exports, with just one third going to Asia. For Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, 80% of exports go to Asia, whist just 6% or 7% go to the EU, either directly or indirectly. Things turned around in 2021. In the 12 months of 2021, seaborne crude oil exports from Russia increased by +3.8% y-o-y from 2020, at 198.2 mln tonnes (excluding domestic cabotage). This however was still well below the volumes seen before 2020. About 78% of crude oil shipped from Russian ports in 2021 was loaded in Aframaxes, and 21% in Suezmaxes. The reason for this is that most shipments are pretty short haul. In 2021, about 77.6 mln tonnes (about 39%) were shipped from Russia’s Black Sea ports”.

Essentially all of it was from the port of Novorossiysk. Destinations from Novorossiysk were primarily the European Union (48.2 mln tonnes), Turkey (8.8 mln tonnes), Israel (2.2 mln tonnes), but also China (4.7 mln tonnes), South Korea (4.2 mln tonnes), India (4.0 mln tonnes). In 2021, about 59.7 mln tonnes (about 30%) were shipped from Russia’s Baltic Sea ports. Of these, 35.7 mln tonnes from Primorsk, 23.5 mln tonnes from UstLuga. Destinations from Russia’s Baltic Sea were primarily the European Union (56.0 mln tonnes), but also Turkey (1.3 mln tonnes). In 2021, about 13.9 mln tonnes (about 7%) were shipped from Russia’s Arctic coast ports. Of these, 5.8 mln tonnes from Murmansk Port, and 7.7 mln tonnes from the Umba FSO. Destinations from Russia’s Arctic coast were primarily the European Union (9.9 mln tonnes), but also the UK (2.5 mln tonnes) and the USA (1.3 mln tonnes). In 2021, about 46.9 mln tonnes (about 24%) were shipped from Russia’s Far East ports. Of these, 32.4 mln tonnes from Kozmino, 10.5 mln tonnes from De Kastri, 3.9 mln tonnes from Prigorodnoye. Destinations from Russia’s Far East were primarily China (26.3 mln tonnes), South Korea (13.3 mln tonnes), Japan (3.9 mln tonnes)”, Banchero Costa concluded.

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