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Russian petrol exports to Asia and Africa increase

Opec+ oil supply cuts Reuters/Mehmet Emin Caliskan
Petrol production at Russian refineries rose by about 4% year-on-year in the first half of 2023 to 21.6 million metric tonnes

Russia’s petrol exports rose in January to June despite the introduction of the European Union’s (EU) embargo, thanks to healthy supplies of the fuel to Africa and Asia, data from market sources showed and traders said.

Petrol production at Russian refineries rose by about 4 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2023 to about 21.6 million metric tonnes, but fuel exports jumped by 30 percent to almost 3.5 million tonnes, according to the sources’ data and Reuters calculations.

That was up from 2.7 million tonnes exported in January – June 2022.

Russia has boosted supplies of its fuel to destinations other than Europe amid the wider political crisis and after the EU slapped an embargo on imports of Russian oil products on February 5.

The main destination for Russian seaborne gasoline exports last year was the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp trading hub, as well as Estonian and Latvian ports. This year, Russia has diverted its fuel mostly to African countries, replacing Northwest European supplies.

Based on Refinitiv data, since the start of 2023, gasoline exports via Russian ports, including a new outlet – the Arctic port of Murmansk – to Africa totalled more than one million tonnes with half of those going to Nigeria.

Before the EU sanctions, Russia had exported gasoline to Africa mostly via the Latvian port of Ventspils.

Russia’s gasoline exports via railways to Central Asian countries rose almost twice year-on-year in January-June 2023 to about 0.8 million tonnes. Fuel supplies to Afghanistan totalled more than 250,000 tons after almost nothing last year.

Mongolia also remains one of the biggest importers of Russian-origin gasoline with almost the same level in the first half of this year. That compared with the same period of 2022 – about 330,000 tons, based on data from market sources.

Russia kept cranking up fuel exports thanks to more lucrative overseas sales as retail prices on the domestic oil products market are regulated by the state.