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Traders Brace for Losses to Russian Exports

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Market players increasingly believe Russia will fail to keep all its oil flowing once EU import bans take effect. Asian traders think China and India cannot absorb all of the 1.2 million barrels per day of crude oil that Russia still must redirect away from Europe, and it will be even harder to find non-EU buyers for an additional 1 million b/d of Russian refined products, since Asia does not need these. With the ban deadlines looming and the December trading cycle starting, traders are also eagerly awaiting details of the G7 price cap on Russian crude and products. Trading sources in Singapore think Russia will only manage to place roughly half of the additional crude and products in Asia that will be displaced by the EU bans, which take effect on Dec. 5 for crude and Feb. 5 for products. They note that China is reluctant to buy much more than the current 2 million b/d of Russian crude — already 400,000 b/d more than average 2021 levels. “China wants to keep Russian buying at current proportionate levels,” one analyst noted. If China would increase crude imports by 1 million b/d to ramp up refinery runs, Russia’s share would just be 20% of that, the analyst said. Likewise, Indian refiners are close to maxing out their Russian intake, traders said. All of Asia could perhaps take another 600,000 b/d more, with perhaps some going to the Mideast. Finding new markets for Russian products is even harder, as both India and China are long diesel, while most OECD countries are banning the imports. That leaves Africa, Latin America and the Mideast as remaining outlets. Moscow may recognize the potential problem. Reuters reported this week that Russia is likely to propose that Opec-plus reduce oil output by around 1 million b/d at its next meeting on Oct. 5, a move that would provide price support if its exports fell.

Topics:
Sanctions, Oil Trade, Crude Oil, Oil Products, Oil Tankers, Ukraine Crisis
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