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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Russia Is Selling Crude Oil To Asia Above The $60 Price Cap

  • Russia is reportedly selling ESPO crude oil to Asia at above the $60 level set by the G7 price cap.
  • China’s teapot refiners have placed orders at $67.11 per barrel, with Russia using its own tankers and insurance to avoid the price cap.
  • ESPO crude is still being sold at a steep discount due to lower demand than normal while Urals is selling well below the price cap.
Crude oil

Russia’s ESPO grade, the crude from Russia’s Far East, is selling in Asia above the $60 price cap as it appears that Russia is currently handling the short Russian Far East-China route with Russian tankers and insurance, traders told Bloomberg on Friday.

Some independent refiners in China—the so-called teapots—have already placed orders for ESPO crude with January delivery of the grade, whose price was assessed at $67.11 per barrel on Thursday by Argus Media.

The price cap on Russian crude imposed by the EU, the G7, and Australia came into effect on Monday, but China hasn’t joined the so-called Price Cap Coalition, which bans maritime transportation services for Russian crude oil unless the oil is sold at or below $60 per barrel. 

The trades with ESPO above the price cap suggest that, for now, Russia has the tankers and insurance firms to provide coverage and shipping for the ESPO grade, which can reach China from Russia’s Far East in less than a week.

Russia has used its own tankers to ship the ESPO crude and often provides insurance itself, according to traders who spoke to Bloomberg.

It appears to be business as usual for Chinese refiners, who continue to buy Russian crude and are ignoring the price cap imposed by Western countries. Due to tepid demand, however, China’s independent refiners are seeing the steepest discounts in months for Russia’s ESPO crude, traders told Reuters earlier this week.

At least one cargo of ESPO, which is preferred by China’s independent refiners, was sold last week at a discount of $6 per barrel to the February ICE Brent price on the delivery-ex-ship (DES) basis, traders familiar with the transaction told Reuters. At the current price of Brent Crude, this means that the ESPO cargo was sold at around $68 per barrel.  

While the ESPO crude is easier for Russia to move from its Far East to China, the price of Russia’s Urals grade, shipped from the Baltic port of Primorsk, was assessed at well below the price cap on Thursday, at just $41.59 per barrel according to Argus.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com


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  • Mamdouh Salameh on December 09 2022 said:
    True to its words, Russia has rejected the Western price cap and is selling its crude above the cap. Moreover, Russia is using its own fleet of oil tankers to deliver its oil cargoes around the world and also ensuring them with no need for Western shipping or insurance.

    Equally its main customers have also rejected the price cap and are continuing to buy Russian crude in increasing volumes as usual.

    It is up to Russia to sell its oil to its loyal customers at the level it wishes with a few dollars discount as a thank you gesture for defying Western sanctions and remaining loyal but it will never sell its oil to others at the price cap.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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