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European Port Workers Are Refusing To Unload Russian Diesel

Russia is finding it increasingly difficult to sell its diesel in Western Europe, after port workers in Sweden and the Netherlands have refused to unload a Russian cargo in recent days despite the fact that the vessel isn’t sailing under a Russian flag.     

Port workers in Rotterdam and Amsterdam have refused to unload a cargo of 60,000 tons of Russian diesel, after the tanker – departed from the Russian Baltic Sea port of Primorsk – was refused entry into a port in Sweden earlier last week. 

“If dockworkers somewhere else in the world refuse the cargo, we will also refuse,” Niek Stam, director of the harbor arm of Dutch labor union FNV, FNV Havens, told Bloomberg in an interview on Sunday, adding that the workers refused to deal with the Russian cargo “on the basis of international solidarity”. 

The Sunny Liger tanker with Russian diesel on board is traveling under the flag of the Marshall Islands and is currently idle off Amsterdam. 

In recent weeks, self-sanctioning in Western Europe regarding purchases and deliveries of Russian crude oil and products has intensified, although the EU has not agreed (yet) to impose an official embargo on imports of Russian oil.  

 More Russian oil is heading for Dutch ports, which are the heart of northwest Europe’s oil trading and refining industry. 

According to broadcaster NOS, the tanker CB Caribic, which had also departed from Primorsk, was able to unload at a Dutch port because the FNV Havens union hadn’t called for a boycott on that vessel. Two other tankers – Clear Stars and the Eikeviken –are currently traveling from Primorks to Rotterdam, NOS reported. 

While it is currently unclear how much diesel Russia could actually deliver to the key ports in the Netherlands, refiners in Europe are processing crude at capacity, bolstered by the highest diesel margins in at least three decades.

Every refinery in Western Europe not undergoing planned spring maintenance has ramped up throughput as refining margins for most fuels, especially diesel, are very high amid a distillate crunch in Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

In a very tight market for distillates, Middle Eastern crude producers are ramping up diesel exports to Europe, which would alleviate the crunch and offset the loss of supply from Russia.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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