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Russia gained newer diesel trade partners in 2023

In 2023, Brazil and Saudi Arabia replaced France and Germany as the countries with the second- and third-most seaborne diesel imports from Russia after sanctions related to Russia’s petroleum product trade went into effect in February 2023. Türkiye was Russia’s largest seaborne diesel importer in both 2022 and 2023.

Diesel made up 40% of Russia’s seaborne petroleum products exports in 2023, increasing 8% from 0.9 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2022 to 1.0 million b/d in 2023. Brazil received 13% (136,000 b/d) of these exports in 2023, and Saudi Arabia received 6% (61,000 b/d), increasing each country’s shares from less than 1% in 2022. Türkiye, a non-EU member, received 13% (122,000 b/d) in 2022 and 31% (315,000 b/d) in 2023, and four countries in Africa—Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Ghana—each increased annual seaborne diesel imports from Russia by more than 20,000 b/d. By comparison, the rest of Europe, excluding Türkiye, received 67% (626,000 b/d) of Russia’s seaborne diesel exports in 2022 and 5% (53,000 b/d) in 2023.

In February 2023, a coalition of G7 countries, the EU, and Australia prohibited the brokering, financing, shipping and insuring of petroleum products of Russian origin by maritime vessels under their jurisdiction and set a price cap on premium-to-crude petroleum products, such as diesel, for other importing countries. According to data from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, the percentage of Russia’s oil product shipments owned or insured by EU or G7 countries declined from an estimated 80% in 2022 to 58% in 2023 because of the prohibition. In addition, Russia’s export revenues for oil products and other chemicals declined 14%, from $104 billion to $89 billion. In February 2024, a compliance and enforcement alert released by the countries enforcing the price cap highlighted common industry actions taken to evade the price caps, such as false documents, intermediary or irregular shipping routes, and the shadow or gray fleet (anonymously owned or insured vessels used to trade sanctioned oil and oil products).

Sustained price caps resulting in increased export demand to countries not imposing the sanctions and refinery outages in early 2024 have reduced diesel and gasoline supply to Russia’s domestic market, which has led to increased domestic fuel prices and periodic fuel export bans in Russia. Monthly refinery runs began declining in January 2024 because of refinery outages from reported drone strikes and sanctions. An estimated 14% of Russia’s refining capacity came offline in the first quarter of 2024, even though declines do not usually occur until spring seasonal maintenance.


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