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Widening discounts for Russian grades and lower international benchmark prices dragged Russia’s oil export revenues down to a six-month low in December, despite higher export volumes, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.
All Russian oil exports, including crude and fuels, jumped by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7.8 million bpd in the last month of 2023, compared to November, the IEA said in its Oil Market Report for January. This was the highest export level in nine months, with crude oil shipments jumping by 240,000 bpd from November to 5 million bpd, and oil product exports increasing by 260,000 bpd month-on-month.
Despite the highest export volumes in nine months, Russia’s estimated export revenues plunged to their lowest level in six months, to $14.4 billion, the IEA said. The decline was the result of increased discounts of Russian oil prices compared to benchmarks and the overall decline in international benchmark prices.
The price of Russia’s flagship crude grade, Urals, dropped in early December to below the G7 price cap of $60 per barrel after the U.S. toughened the enforcement of the sanctions on Russian oil exports.
The tougher enforcement of the G7 sanctions looks to have created troubles for Russia in placing some its crude in some markets, especially one of its top markets, India.
The toughened enforcement and related issues have been holding up Indian purchases of some cargoes of Russian crude oil, with tankers previously headed to India now turning back eastwards, tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg showed earlier this month.
Some of those tankers were already en route to India loaded with Russia’s Sokol grade and departed from the Far Eastern ports in Russia.
At the end of last year, the United States took a tougher stance on the sanctions against Russia and sanctioned several vessels for violating the G7 price cap of $60 per barrel, above which cargoes cannot use Western insurance and financing.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.