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Who Is Still Buying Russian Oil And Gas?

  • Even with sanctions and import bans, Russia is still exporting billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels.
  • In the first 100 days since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has averaged $977 million per day in fossil fuel exports.
  • China is leading the buying spree, accounting for as much as 13.9% of Russian exports.

Despite looming sanctions and import bans, Russia exported $97.7 billion worth of fossil fuels in the first 100 days since its invasion of Ukraine, at an average of $977 million per day. So, which fossil fuels are being exported by Russia, and who is importing these fuels?

The infographic below, via Visual Capitalist's Niccolo Conte and Govind Bhutada, tracks the biggest importers of Russia’s fossil fuel exports during the first 100 days of the war based on data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

In Demand: Russia’s Black Gold

The global energy market has seen several cyclical shocks over the last few years.

The gradual decline in upstream oil and gas investment followed by pandemic-induced production cuts led to a drop in supply, while people consumed more energy as economies reopened and winters got colder. Consequently, fossil fuel demand was rising even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which exacerbated the market shock.

Russia is the third-largest producer and second-largest exporter of crude oil. In the 100 days since the invasion, oil was by far Russia’s most valuable fossil fuel export, accounting for $48 billion or roughly half of the total export revenue.

While Russian crude oil is shipped on tankers, a network of pipelines transports Russian gas to Europe. In fact, Russia accounts for 41% of all natural gas imports to the EU, and some countries are almost exclusively dependent on Russian gas. Of the $25 billion exported in pipeline gas, 85% went to the EU.

The Top Importers of Russian Fossil Fuels

The EU bloc accounted for 61% of Russia’s fossil fuel export revenue during the 100-day period.

Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands—members of both the EU and NATO—were among the largest importers, with only China surpassing them.

Related: Erdogan Warns Sweden, Finland NATO Bids Could Still Be Blocked

China overtook Germany as the largest importer, importing nearly 2 million barrels of discounted Russian oil per day in May—up 55% relative to a year ago. Similarly, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as China’s largest oil supplier. 

The biggest increase in imports came from India, buying 18% of all Russian oil exports during the 100-day period. A significant amount of the oil that goes to India is re-exported as refined products to the U.S. and Europe, which are trying to become independent of Russian imports.

Reducing Reliance on Russia

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, several countries have taken strict action against Russia through sanctions on exports, including fossil fuels. 

The U.S. and Sweden have banned Russian fossil fuel imports entirely, with monthly import volumes down 100% and 99% in May relative to when the invasion began, respectively.

On a global scale, monthly fossil fuel import volumes from Russia were down 15% in May, an indication of the negative political sentiment surrounding the country.


It’s also worth noting that several European countries, including some of the largest importers over the 100-day period, have cut back on Russian fossil fuels. Besides the EU’s collective decision to reduce dependence on Russia, some countries have also refused the country’s ruble payment scheme, leading to a drop in imports.

The import curtailment is likely to continue. The EU recently adopted a sixth sanction package against Russia, placing a complete ban on all Russian seaborne crude oil products. The ban, which covers 90% of the EU’s oil imports from Russia, will likely realize its full impact after a six-to-eight month period that permits the execution of existing contracts.

While the EU is phasing out Russian oil, several European countries are heavily reliant on Russian gas. A full-fledged boycott on Russia’s fossil fuels would also hurt the European economy—therefore, the phase-out will likely be gradual, and subject to the changing geopolitical environment.

By Zerohedge.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 03 2022 said:
    Russia is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products. It normally exports more than 8.0 million barrels a day (mbd) of crude and products.

    The current tight market underscores how quintessential Russia’s 8.0 mbd exports of crude and petroleum products are to the global oil market. That is why Western sanctions virtually excluded Russian oil exports.

    The G7 nations are toying with the idea of capping prices of Russian oil exports and even forming a cartel of major oil consumers to keep the flow of Russian oil while reducing Russia’s oil revenues. They don’t realize how robust Russia’s fiscal position is and how resilient its economy is also. Every time Western nations talk about banning Russian oil or capping it, oil prices surge further forcing Western customers to pay steeper energy bills while President Putin laughs all way to the bank. Moreover, Russia can afford to slash crude oil exports by more than 3.0 mbd without affecting Russia’s revenues and economy.

    However, these ideas are non-starters. What Russia could in effect do is to halt supplies of its crude oil and petroleum products to Western nations while continuing to sell vast volumes of its oil exports to China and India. This will cause oil prices to surge further probably to $120-$130 a barrel thus inflicting considerable damage on the nations suggesting a cap on prices.
    Moreover, Russia isn’t short of buyers. China and India are competing with each other for Russian oil. They alone currently account for 37.5% of Russian oil exports.

    The EU is dependent on Russian oil for 30% of its needs. It banned seaborne imports of Russian oil amounting to 1.95 mbd. But Russia will easily find alternative buyers in this most bullish market.

    Now it transpires that Saudi imports of Russian fuel oil have soared in June. Saudi Arabia is reported to have taken 3.2 million barrels of the Russian power-station fuel from Egypt according to Bloomberg.

    Saudi Arabia has indeed been ramping up imports of Russian fuel oil as there are no sanctions preventing this from happening. Moreover, Russian fuel oil is the cheapest barrel available to fuel Saudi summer power generation demand and makes economic sense.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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