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Russia Remains Top Seaborne Oil Supplier To Europe Despite Sanctions

While the European Union’s seaborne imports of Russian crude oil declined by just over 12% last year, Russia still enjoyed status as the top seaborne oil supplier to the bloc, despite sanctions.

According to data from maritime sector brokerage firm Banchero Costa, last year saw the EU import 98.8 million tonnes of Russian crude via sea, down from 112.5 million tonnes in 2021 and 128.5 million tonnes in 2019.

For 2022, Russia still accounted for 21.9% of European seaborne imports of Russian crude, followed by the North Sea, which accounted for 17% and North Africa, at 15.4%.

North Sea shipments of oil to Europe were up by 19.2% year-on year, and well above 2019 numbers, while North African shipments of oil to Europe increased by 6%. Shipments from West Africa to Europe were up by 27.5% for 2022. The United States saw a 43.1% increase of crude oil exports to Europe for a record 51.4 million tonnes.

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But the biggest surge came from the Arabian Gulf, registering a 76.4% increase year-on-year in 2022, though this is still down from the levels of 2019, while the U.S. exports to Europe were record-breaking.

Overall, Banchero said, citing Refinitiv data, “2022 has turned out to be a very positive year for crude oil trade, despite the surging oil prices and risks of economic recession”.

Globally, the data shows an 8.5% increase in total crude oil loadings, year-on-year. Total loadings came in at 2,047.3 million compared to 1,886.3 million for 2021 and 2,110.5 million tonnes for 2019.

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Though Russia has seen its exports to the EU decline by over 12% last year, the data shows that overall it saw an increase in exports by 10.3% to 2018.5 million tonnes. That figure is only slightly below 2019 levels.

Likewise, the United States also experienced a surge in exports of crude oil, gaining over 22% in the twelve months of 2022, as did Saudi Arabia, showing an over 17% increase.

This compares to West Africa and the North Sea, both of which saw a decline in oil exports for 2022.

On the demand side of the equation, China’s intake of seaborne crude oil overall dropped by 3.6% last year, while India saw the reverse: an 11.7% increase in imports.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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