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Russian Gasoline Imports Surge After Import Ban Ends

Russia’s imports of gasoline surged eight times in November compared to October, after the end of a four-month ban on refined oil product imports ended in October, according to data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service released on Monday.

Last year, after the oil price collapse and the crash in demand in the pandemic, Russia’s government banned between June and October imports of refined oil products, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, to protect its refining industry from cheap imports. The ban on imports of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and gasoil was enacted to ensure the energy security of the Russian federation and stabilize the domestic fuel market, the government said in the decree at the time.

Russia was considering the measure since early April after oil prices crashed and led to much cheaper refined oil products outside Russia. In Russia, however, the price of fuels didn’t change much because of the nature of its regulations.

Demand for oil products at Russia’s gas stations crashed by 40-50 percent because of the lockdowns in the spring, Alexander Novak, the then Energy Minister and currently Deputy Prime Minister, said at the end of April. 

Gasoline production at Russia’s oil refineries slumped to the lowest level in 15 years in May as the country curtailed crude oil production as part of the OPEC+ deal and as lockdowns slashed demand for fuels.

Back in June, Russia’s independent fuel retailers’ association—which does not include the vertically integrated oil firms in Russia—said that the market shouldn’t expect a return of demand to pre-coronavirus levels in the following six months.

After the ban on fuel imports ended on October 1, Russia’s imports of gasoline jumped eight-fold in November from October in terms of volumes and surged seven-fold in terms of value, with November imports worth US$4.9 billion, according to Federal Customs Service’s data cited by news agency TASS.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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