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Russia’s seaborne diesel and gasoil exports fell 21% in May from April levels, to 3.1 million tonnes as refinery maintenance and a surge in domestic demand cut into volumes available for exporting, new Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Friday.
Russia had roughly 5 million tonnes of refining capacity idled in May, compared to plans for 4.5 million tonnes, as several refineries extended their scheduled maintenance.
Loadings to all declared destinations were down, with most of the 3.1 million tonnes going to Turkey and Brazil, with Africa receiving 500,000 tonnes. Around 200,000 tonnes of diesel loaded from Russia in May do not have a confirmed destination, Reuters said. 325,000 tonnes were destined for STS loadings near Kalamata without a declared destination—traders told Reuters that these were likely heading to Asia or the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, traditional Middle Eastern allies of the United States, are not shying away from importing, storing, trading, or re-exporting Russian fuels despite American efforts to persuade them to join a crackdown on Russian attempts to evade the Western sanctions on its oil.
Gasoil stocks in Asia jumped after the EU’s ban on diesel imports that went into effect on February 5, with Asian refiners now forced to compete with Russia for a piece of diesel pie in Africa.
In March, gasoil inventories at the Singapore hub were at the highest level in more than a year, according to Reuters estimates. This is expected to drop with H2 demand poised for a rebound.
Meanwhile, Europe continues to import more diesel from the Middle East and Asia to offset the loss of Russian barrels, of which it imported around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) before the February 5 embargo took effect.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.