How the EU ban on Russian oil imports affects oil flows


(Reuters) Russia has managed to keep its global oil exports at close to the levels seen before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but its share of the European Union market and revenue plunged due to Western sanctions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Russia’s crude oil and oil product exports totaled 7.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, little changed from a year ago, but down by 500,000 bpd from January, the IEA’s report published on March 15, showed.

The monthly drop came as the EU imposed a ban on seaborne oil products from Russia in February, following its ban on seaborne crude oil imports last December, it added.


Russia’s exports of crude oil and oil products to the EU fell to 600,000 bpd in February from 1.3 million bpd in January, and from about 4 million bpd a year ago.

A year ago, the EU was Russia’s main oil export market, accounting for about 50% of its total exports, and in February that share was down to 8%.

The EU ban doesn’t apply to shipments via the Druzhba pipeline that connects Russian oilfields with refineries in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

However, Germany stopped importing Russian crude via Druzhba voluntarily at the end of 2022, while Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft halted supplies to Poland at the end of February.

Other EU countries still importing Russian crude via Druzhba are looking to diversify supplies in future.

Slovakia, which depends nearly 100% on crude oil imports via Druzhba, plans to cut its dependence to around 60% this year. Landlocked Hungary plans to cooperate with Croatia to provide alternative supplies via the Adriatic pipeline.

Bulgaria, which has a two-year exemption from the EU ban on Russian seaborne crude, is seeking to revive a pipeline project to import crude via Greece.

Exports of Russian refined oil products to Europe, such as diesel, fell by 550,000 bpd in February from January, and were down by 1.7 million bpd from a year ago, the IEA said.


The EU has sought to offset the loss of Russian crude by buying more from elsewhere, including from the Middle East, West Africa, Norway and Kazakhstan.

At the end of February, Kazakhstan started shipping oil to Germany via the Druzhba pipeline. The central Asian country has asked Druzhba’s operator Transneft to provide transit capacity of about 24,000 bpd for all 2023.

In December, Norway increased production capacity at its Johan Sverdrup oilfield to 720,000 bpd from 535,000 bpd, and its operator Equinor is looking at the possibility of boosting it to 755,000 bpd.

Polish refiner PKN Orlen said it would plug the supply gap from other sources after Transneft stopped shipping Russian crude via Druzhba, and that it would seek compensation.

Finland, previously one of the EU states most dependent on Russian oil, halted Urals crude imports last year while increasing purchases from Norway and sourcing barrels from the UK and the United States, Refinitiv Eikon data shows.


Recent tanker tracking data suggest Moscow has managed to re-route most of the barrels previously destined for the EU and the U.S. to new outlets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the IEA said.

By February, shipments of Russian crude to Europe had declined by 2.1 million bpd from a year earlier, while exports to India had increased by 1.6 million bpd and by 500,000 bpd to China.

Russia accounted for around 40% and 20% of Indian and Chinese crude imports, respectively, while the two countries took in more than 70% of Russia’s crude exports last month, the IEA said.

Shipments from Western Russia to Europe, however, take around 10 days or less, while voyages to India and China take more than 30 and 50 days, respectively, meaning additional costs for transport.

While Russian crude oil shipments are almost exclusively heading to Asia, a more diverse set of buyers for products locked out of the EU is emerging, the IEA said.

Russian oil product exports to Africa, Turkey and the Middle East rose by 300,000 bpd, 240,000 bpd and 175,000 bpd, respectively, in February compared to pre-war levels, while exports to Asia were up by less than 300,000 bpd.


While Russian oil production and exports remained near pre-war levels in February, it’s revenue from oil sales took a hit as a result of price caps imposed by the West.

From Dec. 5, the EU together with G7 countries set a price cap on Russian seaborne crude exports at $60 per barrel, while North Sea oil traded at above $80 per barrel in February.

The EU and G7 also set price caps on Russian oil products, such as diesel, fuel oil and naphtha, from Feb. 5.

The measure bans companies from providing transportation, insurance and financing services for Russian crude oil and oil products if they are sold at a price above the cap.

As a result, Russia’s earnings from oil sales fell to $11.6 billion in February from $14.3 billion in January and nearly $20 billion a year ago, the IEA said.

“This indicates that the G7 sanctions regime has been effective in not restricting global crude and product supplies, while simultaneously curtailing Russia’s ability to generate export revenue,” it added.


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