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Russia Honors OPEC+ Commitments with Reduced Oil Exports

Russian crude oil exports by sea in the first week of 2024 were aligned with the level Moscow has pledged to maintain as part of the OPEC+ agreement, tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg showed on Tuesday.   

Russian crude oil shipments between January 1 and January 7 averaged 3.28 million barrels per day (bpd)—exactly 300,000 bpd below the observed exports by sea in May and June, which are used as reference levels for Russia’s promised reduction of 300,000 bpd of crude exports, according to the data reported by Bloomberg’s Julian Lee.   

Russia had pledged to reduce its oil exports by 300,000 bpd until the end of 2023, in a show of solidarity with its OPEC+ partner Saudi Arabia, which is voluntarily reducing its oil production by 1 million bpd until the end of the first quarter of 2024.  

At the latest OPEC+ meeting at the end of November, Russia said it would deepen the export cut to 500,000 bpd in the first quarter of 2024 – with May and June 2023 being the reference export levels for the cut. The cut this quarter will consist of reductions in exports of 300,000 bpd of crude and 200,000 bpd of refined products. 

The first week of 2024 showed Russia is keeping its end of the bargain and the average exports of 3.28 million bpd were down by 300,000 bpd from May-June 2023, and down by 500,000 bpd compared to the previous week to December 31. 

Russia’s crude exports in the four weeks to January 7 averaged higher—at 3.34 million bpd, or around 245,000 bpd below the May-June level, according to the data monitored by Bloomberg. 

It’s not clear whether Russia will keep its exports as low as planned going forward as Moscow has always been evasive about its compliance with the OPEC+ agreement, even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Issues with sales to India as the West is tightening the sanctions enforcement could also dent Russian crude oil shipments.   

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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