Russia’s crude oil exports by sea plunged in the last four weeks of 2022 to the lowest level of the year as shipments to Europe all but dried out following the EU embargo, declining flows to Asia due to bad weather, and what appears to be a shortage of tankers to carry Russian crude on longer voyages.
Russia’s overall crude oil exports by sea dropped by 117,000 barrels per day (bpd) on a four-week average basis to 2.615 million bpd for the final four weeks of 2022, according to estimates by Bloomberg News’ Julian Lee.
Those shipments are the lowest volumes Russia sent out on a four-week average basis last year.
As of December 5, the EU and G7 ban maritime transportation services from shipping Russia’s crude oil to third countries if the oil is bought above the price cap of $60 per barrel, and the EU imposed an embargo on seaborne imports of Russian oil into the bloc.
Russian crude wasn’t exported to northern Europe last month, while the only EU destination for a small part of Russia’s exports was Bulgaria, which had secured a temporary exemption from the EU embargo on seaborne imports of Russian crude.
China, India, and Turkey were the main destinations of Russian crude oil exports in the last four weeks of 2022. However, exports to India and Turkey may have also dropped in December, according to Bloomberg.
Part of the Russian crude exports is already difficult to track due to the growing number of vessels that carry Russian crude but do not show the final destination at the start of the route.
Russia will increasingly resort to sanction-evading practices such as masking its crude or deceiving positioning data, analysts say. Russia has already amassed a “shadow fleet” of tankers to ship its crude outside the price cap, and is copying some of the spoofing techniques used by Iran and Venezuela, which are on the list of Moscow’s “friendly” countries.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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