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Russian Oil Flowing To US Refiners As Venezuela Supplies Dry Up

The United States is increasing its oil imports from Russia, according to a Bloomberg source, as US refineries clamor for more oil now that Venezuelan oil supplies have dried up.

The amount of oil that flowed into the United States from Russia so far in May was exponentially greater, said Russ Dallen of Caracas Capital Markets. United States took a total of 5 million barrels of Russian crude so far this month, and more are on the way.

The United States imported less Russian crude in January and February, purchasing a total of 16.13 million barrels of crude and other oil products, according to the Energy Information Administration. This compares to 20.25 million during that period in 2018. But the US is expected to increase this as much as three times now that Venezuela is no longer a crude supplier to the United States.

In January and February, Venezuela shipped 27.67 million barrels to the United States. This is lower than in January and February 2018, when oil shipments from Venezuela to the United States came in at 29.589 million for the two-month period—the latest official EIA data available—with an expectation that these have plummeted to zero in May.

The data suggests that Russia is all too happy to pick up the slack left by Venezuela and profit from it—much like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are happy to do as Iranian oil exports fall to new lows. For Russia, this could be viewed as a rather opportunistic hedge against the money it has lent to Venezuela, with slim hopes of Venezuela ever paying it back.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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