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Russia Appears to Comply With OPEC+ Production Pledge

Russia appears to have complied in January with its pledge to reduce crude oil exports by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) this quarter, anonymous sources with knowledge of Russian energy ministry data, which is not public, have told Bloomberg.

At the latest OPEC+ meeting at the end of November, Russia said it would deepen the export cut to 500,000 bpd in the first quarter of 2024 – with May and June 2023 being the reference export levels for the cut. The cut this quarter will consist of reductions in exports of 300,000 bpd of crude and 200,000 bpd of refined products.  

In crude exports, Russia is estimated to have exported 4.59 million bpd both via tankers and pipelines last month. The decline from the May-June average, used as a baseline for the export cut, is equal to around 307,000 bpd, according to Bloomberg calculations and conversion of data in tons into barrels. 

In seaborne crude shipments only, the four-week average of Russian exports was just over 3 million bpd in the four weeks to February 18, perfectly in line with the Russian pledge to reduce exports by 300,000 bpd, according to tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg

However, issues with sales to India as the West is tightening the sanctions enforcement could have dented Russian crude oil shipments more than Moscow originally intended.

As many as 15 million barrels of Russia’s Sokol grade – initially for deliveries to India – are sitting on idle tankers off South Korea and Malaysia, per ship-tracking data Bloomberg analysts have compiled.

Some of the tanker owners have been sanctioned by the U.S. after loading crude for India, while other cargoes are being held up by banks refusing payments due to either the price of oil exceeding the G7 price cap or a lack of clarity who the ultimate owner is, according to Indian officials who spoke to Bloomberg.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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