Traders Weigh Risks of Sticking With Russia

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Sipa USA via AP

The big oil trading companies are weighing the potential risks and rewards of continuing to do business with Russia, as Western majors such as Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP slash their operations due to the war in Ukraine. Before the conflict started, Vitol, Trafigura, Gunvor and Glencore were together shipping more than 1 million barrels per day of Russian crude and products out of the Black Sea, Baltics and Far East, much of which was sourced from state-backed giant Rosneft. Volumes have since dropped off, as shipowners and refiners turn their back on Russian oil, forcing an overall slump in exports of more than one-third, according to Energy Intelligence estimates. But the trading firms remain a force to be reckoned with and could sense an opportunity to fill the gap left by the majors’ exodus. Port data show traders still lifting Russian barrels; shipments of standard Urals blend, Russia’s dominant export stream, have dried up, but lesser grades have suffered fewer disruptions. These include East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (Espo) blend that is sold to Asian buyers from the Far East terminal of Kozmino, and include Vitol, Trafigura and a small Geneva-based firm, Paramount Energy, among the main shippers. In Vitol’s case, the Espo barrels are set aside as part of a 180,000 b/d crude offtake that the company secured from Rosneft last year. Trafigura buys regularly from Rosneft and privately-owned producer, Surgutneftegas, while Paramount handles the oil of small Russian producers.

Oil Trade, Oil Supply, Sanctions, Military Conflict, Crude Oil, Ukraine Crisis
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