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Despite the Western sanctions, Russian oil companies boosted their gasoline exports by 37% between January and May compared to the same period in 2022, Russian daily Kommersant reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the data.
The Russian Energy Ministry last month asked oil companies to reduce their exports and raise supply on the domestic market, according to Kommersant's sources.
After a sharp rise in wholesale gasoline prices in May and recommendations from the Energy Ministry to oil firms to curb exports, Russia's daily gasoline exports in the first six days of June were four times lower than the levels at the end of May, Kommersant reports.
Russia has stopped reporting official data about oil production and exports, much to the frustration of its OPEC+ partners, as the leader of the pack, Saudi Arabia, is reportedly looking to boost oil prices to at least $80 per barrel—the estimated breakeven price for its budget for 2023.
Russia has redirected both crude oil and petroleum product exports after the EU embargoes on imports of seaborne Russian oil. The EU banned crude imports in early December 2022 and embargoed fuel imports from Russia as of February 5, 2023.
Russian gasoline exports surged in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, as Moscow placed growing volumes of fuels with African customers after the EU embargo on seaborne imports of Russia's fuels. Russian gasoline exports were estimated at 1.9 million tons in the first quarter of 2023, up compared to 1.3 million tons exported in the same period of 2022, per Refinitiv data cited by Reuters.
The trade shift in Russian oil flows also benefits Moscow's Middle Eastern allies in the OPEC+ pact as the biggest Arab Gulf oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), scoop up Russia's fuels at discounted prices.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com