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Russian crude oil exports by sea surged by 26% to 3.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending February 17, the highest level in more than a month, according to shipment tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
All export terminals on the Russian Baltic, Black Sea, Arctic, and Pacific coasts saw a rise in crude oil shipments last week. The four-week average rate of exports was also higher and rebounded to 3.34 million bpd, according to the data monitored by Bloomberg. Of those, as much as 3.19 million bpd was headed to China and India, while historical data observed by Bloomberg suggests that the cargoes with destination labels of “unknown” usually arrive in India.
The weekly exports are not so reliable in identifying sustainable patterns; the four-week average could be more accurate, and it points to a rise in Russia’s seaborne crude oil exports.
Overall Russian oil exports, including crude and products, rose to 8.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, just ahead of the EU embargo and G7 price cap on refined products, which took effect on February 5, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report last week.
Crude oil exports increased by almost 300,000 bpd in January compared to December, despite a further 450,000 bpd decline in shipments to the EU, the agency said.
Russia’s announced cut of 500,000 bpd in production for March could be a sign that Moscow may be struggling to place all of its barrels, or “an attempt to shore up oil prices,” the international agency said.
This year, Russia plans to sell more than 80% of its crude oil exports to “friendly” countries, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said last week.
China and India are Russia’s biggest crude oil customers now. Those two major Asian importers—the world’s largest and third-largest crude importers—haven’t joined the Price Cap coalition and are thought to be buying cheap Russian crude at deep discounts to international benchmarks.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,