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Russian Urals crude traded at $49.48 per barrel in January, with rising transportation costs compounding a discount that has seen the country’s flagship crude price drop by 42% year-on-year, according to Russian Finance Ministry figures cited by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
Official figures released on Wednesday showed a drastic decline from $85.64 in January 2021 to this year’s price of under $49.5 per barrel, Anadolu Agency reported.
While slightly different from the Russian Finance Ministry figures, Platts (part of S&P Global Commodity Insights) on January 30th assessed Russian Urals at $45.86 per barrel, which at the time represented a discount to Dated Brent of $38.77.
S&P Global notes that prior to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Urals was trading at a ~$10 discount to Dated Brent.
Western sanctions, including an EU ban on Russian seaborne crude, which went into effect on December 5th, and a G7 price cap of $60 on Russian oil imports has resulted in a redirection of trade in Urals, mostly to India and China.
On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told Russian media that the country’s oil production and export situation remained stable despite Western attempts to derail oil revenues. Novak said the Urals price was acceptable,
Novak told Rossiya-24 TV that there are also expectations for demand recovery in China once COVID infections and deaths reach their peak and start to move in the opposite direction. China’s demand recovery could boost prices for Urals.
The statement followed the virtual meeting of OPEC+ ministers earlier on Wednesday, during which time the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) recommended that no changes be made to oil production quotas due to uncertainties around Chinese demand and Russian supply over the coming months.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com
And though Russia gives preferential prices to its loyal customers, its generosity doesn’t extend to giving a discount of $38.77 a barrel particularly that Urals crude is the most preferred heavy crude by China’s refiners.
Therefore, Platts’ claim that Russia is offering such a huge discount is out of cync with reality. Platts and some Western analysts use such unsubstantiated claims to reach the conclusion that Russian oil revenue is declining which is totally untrue.
How could it be true when official data from Russia’s Central Bank showed that both Russia’s current account surplus and trade balance surplus reached $228 bn and $290 bn respectively in 2022.
If the Kremlin isn't worried it is because it knows it is deliberate Western disinformation.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert